If real-time satellite imagery technology already exists, why are surveillance drones used in hostile areas?


Edit: I got a very helpful and detailed explanation from u/SeanUhTron, quoting his comment here for other curious people to read:

>Geosynchronous satellites do exist, but they have much higher orbits, putting them further away and making data transmissions slower and photos less clear.
>Drones are used because they can get much more data such as radio transmissions, clear photos, and they can be easily replaced if lost. Satellites are very vulnerable to ASAT weapons and take a long time and a lot of money to replace. Satellites also only fly over their target areas during certain times of the day. If the enemy knows this, they can plan ahead and only move troops and equipment during the times they aren’t visible to satellites.

[Here’s a link to that reply](https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/c2wve3/eli5_if_realtime_satellite_imagery_technology/ern3j6x/?context=3).


Edit 2: u/brainwired1 also has provided several reasons for using drones instead of satellites, notably the occasional presence of clouds and smog, as well as the fact that satellites are more costly. Thank you as well!

In: Technology

Real time doesn’t mean they can see every area of the globe simultaneously. They still need a satellite overhead, and they typically move. A drone can be sent to a specific area and linger for hours.

Satellites are moving several thousand miles per hour, and they cannot slow down or stop. You can get real-time satellite imagery, but not on-demand, and only for short periods of time. If you need some quick pictures, you use satellites. If you need video surveillance over a long period of time, you need drones.

Clouds. Smog. Also satellites are expensive, and not necessarily parked over every portion of the earth that you might want to look at. Plus they are in demand, so they may not be available for what you want to look at, when you need it. Drones can cover all of the above at a significantly cheaper cost, so you can deploy dozens in comparison to the cost of getting one satellite to orbit.