Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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SOS sign for satellite photo
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Lost people could unfold a giant foil with 'SOS' sign (e.g. 50 cm wide glittering letters) on it to notify satellites taking photos of it and automatically OCR (optical character recognizing) the continously made images. A small packed foil to be in every (sea) lifeboat, yacht, desert or mountain climber's rucksack. OCR might be more effective if using another sign, e.g. 'XOX', rarer in nature. The foil must be durable and lighter than water to float. Some kind of plastic for background, aluminium for the letters? Reflect in infrared? to be seen better across fog and maybe cloud. When the satellite quick OCR finds something suspicious, different from yesterday's picture, should make quickly a better resolution picture and send it to Earth. What is the most efficient sign? Are(/will) there enough (military) satellites continuously monitoring the Earth?
jratkai, Mar 25 2014


       Welcome back!   

       This is not such a bad idea...
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 25 2014

       Is this like cooking foil?
po, Mar 25 2014

       Why would you cook foil?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 25 2014

       flocking aircraft parts.
FlyingToaster, Mar 25 2014

MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 25 2014

       This is a cool idea, and I believe the answers to most of the questions posed in the text are in favor of the author's intent. Big bun.   

       Put a half dozen of them in every commercial airframe, sealed in pods designed to break open and inflate the panels on exposure to salt water.
Alterother, Mar 25 2014

       //Why would you cook foil?   

       To foil bacteria?
not_morrison_rm, Mar 25 2014

       There are no such things as foil bacteria, you fool.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 25 2014

       Great addition Alterother, thanks. On exposure of the airplane's surface to salt water (or in case of a serious hit (crashlanding), like the car airbag) catapult one of the black boxes, connected to some gas-inflating balls and some floating signs.
jratkai, Mar 25 2014

       This concept is excellent. I think that we need a Halfbaker with engineering credentials to prototype [jrat]'s brilliant idea and put it on Kickstarter. I'd do it myself if I had the education to be taken seriously by the NTSB and the aerospace industry.
Alterother, Mar 26 2014

       // catapult one of the black boxes //   

       Jettisoning the entire flight data recorder is unnecessary; all that needs to go with the ejection payload is an element-resistant flash memory backup.
Alterother, Mar 26 2014

       I am concerned that XOX might convey kisses and hugs to satellite and other viewers.
bungston, Mar 26 2014

       I think a giant scannable-from-orbit QR code should suffice.
Alterother, Mar 26 2014

       That last bit wasn't a serious suggestion, btw. I just see the goddamn things everywhere nowsadays, so why not make some visible from space?
Alterother, Mar 26 2014

       //why not make some visible from space?   

       Because nobody actually scans them.   

       We wouldn't want to foil the original idea by having a QR code at the last mile. The satellite scanning algo would either crash or refuse to scan the code on principle.
the porpoise, Mar 26 2014

       In a cruel twist of fate, the QR code had survived the crash, but unbeknown to the survivor it was proudly broadcasting "$1.99 Walmart.com" to every passing satellite.
Ling, Mar 27 2014

       As I said, the QR code bit wasn't serious. Fekking ridiculous things.
Alterother, Mar 27 2014

       Maybe this is our best ticket off this rock. Create a loud enough beacon that is magically understood by intelligent life as an 'SOS-please-get-us-off-this rock signal.'
RayfordSteele, Mar 27 2014


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