This year, everyone on the planet was plunged into a brave new world, as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe in a matter of weeks. An ally in the battle to contain this and future epidemics could come, not from earth, but from space. And the benefits of space technologies are being seen in all facets of life.

This Spotlight takes us into orbit and back down to earth as we consider the ways satellites could help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We look at how invasive weeds and pests are being combatted in Asia using satellite imagery, and how nomadic communities in Africa are using space technology and mobile phone networks to go where the water is. In Latin America, where satellites are really taking off, they are being recruited to monitor volcanoes, map heat islands in megacities, and predict floods and fires.

Satellites are helping communities recover from the destruction of wars and natural disasters. And, we reveal how data from satellites could help predict future coronavirus outbreaks around the globe.