Something that a lot of citizens from economic powers take for granted is the ability for their government and private sector to accomplish 'the big stuff.' We read our news and see new government programs here, new private sector research there and they are all big budget. Other nations, despite having the technical expertise, do not always have the start up capital to get projects like these off the ground let alone budget for their maintenance.
Engineers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have designed two earth observing satellites. One of these satellites can observe the moisture content of soil across the continent every three days. The problem though is that Australia does not maintain earth observation satellites. They do have telecommunication satellites operated in conjunction with private companies. For earth observation they currently use scenes from the U.S and Japan.
These satellites "could be used by agriculture, conservationists, meteorologists and climate scientists." Like most countries Australia has been hit hard by droughts. Their agricultural production is being severely hurt because of rising temperatures and declining rain fall. These satellites could create a high temporal resolution of the soil moisture across their country. It would give them a significant insight in creating responses to localized irrigation needs. There are long term research benefits as well. Having a temporally detailed record of soil moisture will help establish a baseline for climate change research. Australia could create responses to greater continental level environmental needs.
We will have to see how satellite technology progresses. If the technology becomes cheaper and governments with smaller GDPs can maintain their own systems the research potential could be staggering.