What's as big as a car, flies eighty miles above the earth, and as one of its jobs helps the Drug Enforcement Agency look for marijuana fields in California? It's a LAN-satellite, of course--a low-orbiting satellite that sweeps from side to side, taking photos of the earth below. These photos are very valuable, but they are distorted because of the sweeping motion of the satellite. Bob Gore, an engineer at Lockheed Martin, used Mathematica to help straighten it out.
"If you looked at the raw satellite image of a runway, it would look jagged. It was my job to investigate new ways of removing the jagged edges from the satellite images," said Gore, who also uses Mathematica at home as a hobbyist. "I started with old Fortran code, but I then used Mathematica to rewrite that code in 20 : 1 less lines of code. That kind of rapid prototyping was a valuable time-saver."