Planet Labs has a flock of DOVES, microsatellites to provide rapid Earth imaging. Aside from being adorably tiny science-machines, these little observers have art etched into their very panels. Why? Because it's beautiful.

Art in space is a tricky concept. To ensure that the images will last in space without fading, chipping, sticking, or otherwise damaging the delicate instruments, the images are first painted on canvas and then laser-etched into the satellite panels.

We've covered these micro-satellites when they first launched. Now Planet Labs scientist Will Marshall just gave a TED talk on why a swarm of 10 kg satellites are so valuable for providing constantly-updating images of our planet, and their first artist-in-residence, Forest Stearns, recently gave an interview about the inspiration of artistic satellites.

Photograps courtesy of Planet Labs.