The app does include imaging satellites with resolution capabilities of some 16 feet (5 meters) or better for which orbit information is published by NORAD. For the most part, these are commercial satellites or openly acknowledged government satellites from other countries.
When pondering the potential uses of this app, might it not help hide nefarious actions from orbiting eyes — say by a terrorist group, somebody whipping up a batch of plutonium or perhaps those involved in human rights wrongdoing?
Herz said that people have already mentioned possible use of the app by terrorists.
"We were careful to only include satellites that are unclassified and whose orbits are published by NORAD. Even the sensor data — resolution, etc. — was taken only from the websites published by the satellite operators. So everything SpyMeSat is using is open and public. Even the computations are basic orbit math taught in colleges everywhere," Herz said.
"We can also track app downloads by country through the Apple App Store," he added. "So far, no terrorist countries — unless you consider Brazil, Switzerland, Canada, Germany or Australia, terrorist havens."
Responding to a SPACE.com query, John Pike, a leading expert on defense, space and intelligence policy and director of GlobalSecurity.org, said: "Anyone who was trying to hide from such satellites was already doing so."
SpyMeSat requires iOS 6.0 or later. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and is optimized for iPhone 5.
Cost of this app is $1.99 on the iTunes Preview website at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spymesat/id691290387?mt=8=Download
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Originally published on SPACE.com.