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This article is a segment of 2017’s Best of What’s New list. For the complete tabulation of the year’s most transformative products and discoveries, head right this way.
As long as planes have existed, they’ve been virtually unaccounted for when they fly more than 200 miles offshore. Air-traffic controllers track planes via ground-based receivers, called ADS-Bs, that pick up signals from transponders inside aircraft. By launching those receivers skyward on 81 satellites, 40 of which went up this year, Aireon will deliver the first unimpeded view of crafts flying over seas and poles.