A Lantean observation satellite is a satellite deployed as a network in orbit around several planets throughout the Pegasus galaxy that track and control the development of human civilizations. Each satellite is controlled by a computer terminal on both the planet and at the location of observation. Dr. Rodney McKay and Lt. Colonel John Sheppard discovered one such terminal in Atlantis' Society research lab and mistook it for a fantasy role-playing game. However, upon a routine survey mission, Major Evan Lorne's team arrived at a planet being controlled by these satellites and determined that all the people in them are real, and living on a planet somewhere in the Pegasus galaxy.
The satellites are capable of tracking all life on a planet as well as generating real 3d images of people and objects using sensor data. They were also capable of interpreting the functions of objects such as wells and the sensors can identify materials on the planet, such as places worthy of mining etc. (SGA: "The Game")