ARGOS THE WATCHER – Living in a Surveillance Society

“And set a watcher upon her, great and strong Argos, who with four eyes looks every way. And the goddess stirred in him unwearying strength: sleep never fell upon his eyes; but he kept sure watch always.”

[Attributed to Hesiod – from a fragment of an ancient poem entitled “Aigimios”]

ARGOS is a seamless global surveillance system designed to catalog environmental threats and identify issues of non-compliance towards Agenda 21. The ARGOS website describes it as “A Worldwide Tracking and Environmental Monitoring” system. ARGOS, is described by NASA as “the all-seeing 100 eyed giant in Greek mythology. Sounds good if your allegience is to the United Nations, or GAIA, the earth “goddess” and mother of Argos Panopetes – a.k.a. “The Watcher”.

Have you ever noticed that men reserve the strongest names for lofty peaks, desolate places, and imposing weapons systems?  In Greece the highest mountains are all named after various Greek idols.  Mt. Olympus is regarded as the dwelling place of the most powerful deities.

Mt. Fuji in Japan is considered, by some, to be the dwelling place of the goddess Sengen-sama. In Tibet, Mt. Kailash is said to be the home of the Hindu deity Shiva. Mt. Kailash is held sacred by no less than four different religions.

Mt. Shasta and lenticular cloud, photo taken with the author’s cell phone while driving.

Mt. Shasta is the largest volcano by volume in the Cascade range.  Shasta is considered a sacred mountain by the Wintu tribe as well as by an eclectic collection of modern New Age devotees who make forays to plant crystals on the mountain’s flanks.  In California’s Sierra Nevada range, Scylla, Charybdis, Gemini, the Sphinx, Dragon Peak, and Thor are well known climbing destinations.  Numerous other Sierra peaks are named for the forces of nature such as Thunderbolt and Lightning, or after the great scientists and thinkers spawned by the “Age of Enlightenment”, men such as Darwin, Mendel, Huxley and Goethe.

The planets in our solar system are also all named after the ancient Greek or Roman “gods”, as were mankind’s attempts to reach the stars, i.e. the Mercury, Gemini, and the Apollo space programs. The Saturn V rocket is still considered one of the most powerful propulsion systems ever built.

Which leads us to ARGOS [Argus, Arges], “The Watcher”, the ancient multi-eyed Greek deity.  In Greek mythology, Argos was the son of the “goddess” Gaia.  He was appointed guardian of Io, and was eventually slain by the “god” Hermes at Zeus’s command. But with the help of Gaia’s magical powers, the immortal Argos was transformed into a celestial peacock.

Argos consorted with Electra, the “goddess” from which we derive our term for electricity.  Argos never sleeps, always keeping at least some of his multiple eyes open. Argos sees all and remembers all, which makes ARGOS a fitting name for the joint US/French/EU program that provides satellite video surveillance over the entire earth at nearly two billion pixel resolution.

Not only does the ARGOS system see everything that happens on the surface of the planet down to 6″, but it also records everything that it sees. An ARGOS user can go back in time and focus in on what happened days or weeks previously.

“The danger we face in the United States today is that if a particular ideology were to ever gain predominance, a totalitarian state would not be difficult to impose.”  [Michael Kleen – What is Totalitarianism?]

The mission statement and terms of use for ARGOS declare that the only acceptable applications that are allowed access to the ARGOS database are those that are actively working to protect environmental sustainability, including monitoring regulatory compliance with government mandates such as

Argos Platforms as of April 29, 2014
There are currently more than 21,000 active Argos platforms collecting data for over 1,900 distinct projects in 115 countries.

the Endangered Species Act, or any uses designed to monitor climate change, any uses that track and record species movement and animal migration, or any application that monitors threats to global security.  In other words, ARGOS monitors compliance with national, international and multi-national laws, mandates, norms, and/or expectations.  All military uses remain classified, of course.

From the NOAA website:

The Argos Data Collection and location System (DCS) is a data collection and relay program that provides global coverage and platform location. The Argos program is administered under a joint agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the French Space Agency, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). Additional partners include EUMETSAT and ISRO.

The system consists of in-situ data collection platforms equipped with sensors and transmitters and the Argos instrument aboard polar-orbiting satellites. The global environmental data sets are collected at telemetry ground stations in Fairbanks, Alaska; Wallops Island, Virginia; and Svalbard, Norway; and pre-processed by the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) in Suitland, Maryland. Two CNES subsidiary companies, Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) in Toulouse, France and CLS America in Lanham, Maryland process the data and deliver it to the end user.

Flying the Argos system aboard polar-orbiting satellites provides worldwide coverage. Additionally, incorporating the Argos instrument on a moving satellite allows for locating an in-situ platform using Doppler shift calculations. This positioning capability permits a wide variety of applications such as monitoring drifting ocean buoys and studying WILDLIFE MIGRATION PATHS.

There are currently more than 21,000 active Argos platforms collecting data for over 1,900 distinct projects in 115 countries. Notably, U.S. applications account for ~65% of total system use, on average; and there are 45 distinct projects being managed by various NOAA offices.

Read more about ARGOS :

9 thoughts on “ARGOS THE WATCHER – Living in a Surveillance Society

  1. “Surveillance is harmful because it can chill the exercise of our civil liberties, especially our intellectual privacy. It also gives the watcher power over the watched, creating the the risk of a variety of other harms, such as discrimination, coercion, and the threat of selective enforcement, where critics of the government can be prosecuted or blackmailed for wrongdoing unrelated to the purpose of the surveillance.” [Neil M. Richards- The Dangers of Surveillance]

  2. Ruth

    Steve – So, we’ve got ARGOS patrolling the skies keeping a lookout for environmental transgressors, Drones flying above our heads, Cameras recording our every movement the moment we step out our front door, monitoring devices on the appliances we buy, RFID’s tagging along home with us on practically every item we buy, and now ‘thought police’ are busy recording private conversations for the purpose of future public humiliation of the perpetrator.
    “Nothing to see here … move along… move along.” as Obi Wan might say.

    Michael Kleen’s essay on Totalitarianism indicated exceptional foresight on his part when I considered how far in advance of Edward Snowden’s revelations Kleen wrote it. Very thought provoking. Great post Steve –
    “Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then.” Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly

  3. ARGOS is coupled with many other monitoring systems, such as SARAL, ALTIKA, and DORIS (to name just a few). One excited researcher describes the new ARGOS 3 application thus… “Designed as a modem that communicates with the entire Argos satellite constellation, the PMT should SEDUCE the oceanographic community…. Argos-3 and the PMT offer interesting new features. It is a real revolution….Given the many enthusiastic responses from users and manufacturers to the Argos-3 PMT, we are now thinking of the development of a smaller Argos-3 transmitter that would suit the wildlife community’s needs”, says Michel Guigue [PMT/ARGOS 3 Project Manager].'”

  4. Some of the applications of ARGOS are truly amazing, and reveal an almost infinite “god-like” capacity for data collection and information dissemination. For example, ARGOS has been used since 2004 by the UN’s food program to monitor/track school lunch programs in developing nations, and it is also being used to track the spread and outbreak of comunicable diseases, such as malaria, as well as to track the movements of fish, reptile, and mammal species. And there are tens of thousands of other current applications. How did we ever get along without him?

  5. Dennis

    Give me the “View” or give me death!
    The religiously Left has their sacraments (e.g. abortion), but other sacraments can and will be found, among them liberty!
    Tyranny is sinking its teeth deep into reality, but “bread and circuses” provide cover for the violin tongue of 0 and the puppet masters.
    What is left? Victory through faith in Jesus Christ; Maranatha!

  6. Steve, I am well aware of this and several other programs yet to be revealed. My father (God rest his soul) retired as an executive from the company that made the cameras that found the missiles in cuba during the cuban missile crisis (Chicago Aeronautical Industries). The picture over my desk is the darkstar visible sensor promotional picture from the lobby of their offices. I know very well how powerful their tools are for visible surveillance, have known for years.

    While these are the eye in the sky, your phone is the camera in your house and the microphone in your home. They are using them to profile you not just watch you. While I am aware of the overall surveillance threat, nothing is more personal than the devices we are all carrying around with us every day. The strings they have attached are not necessary for them to function and since we have been using them now for almost 30 years everyone views them as totally harmless. The telecoms have even started to pull out of home wired service due to lack of use and sky rocketing maintenance costs.

    We are certainly of like mind, I just see one as far more of a threat because nobody is taking it seriously and they actually know about it. We cant get to the other until they get pissed about the fact that the things they love and trust more than anything has been turned against them.

  7. Thanks Mike, very interesting about your dad. My own step father was a paratrooper who was preparing for the invasion of Japan in the later stages of WWII. They were estimating a 99.9% casualty rate for the first wave. The atomic bomb changed all that, and he was part of the occupation force instead, and lived to a ripe old age.

    Most folks don’t really care how intrusive these systems are (or can be), and like to think all these “tools” will continue to be used for benign purposes only, (with exceptions, of course). They like the convenience and believe that “security” trumps privacy, but their faith is misplaced. Everything could change in the blink of an eye, or the flash of a nuke.

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