Planet Labs, Inc. (formerly Cosmogia, Inc.) is an American private Earth imaging company based in San Francisco, CA. Their goal is to image the entirety of the planet daily to monitor changes and pinpoint trends. The company designs and manufactures Triple-CubeSat miniature satellites called Doves that are then delivered into orbit as secondary payloads on other rocket launch missions. Each Dove is equipped with a high-powered telescope and camera programmed to capture different swaths of Earth. Each Dove Earth observation satellite continuously scans Earth, sending data once it passes over a ground station. Together, Doves form the largest satellite constellation in the world that provides a complete image of Earth once per day at 3–5 m optical resolution. This is accomplished through a technique called a line scan, which allows for continuous, high resolution imagery due to the fact that this type of camera is not restricted to specific vertical resolution.
|Founded||December 29, 2010|
|Founder||Will Marshall, Chris Boshuizen, Robbie Schingler|
Number of locations
|6 offices (USA, Germany, Netherlands, Canada)|
|Will Marshall (CEO)|
Robbie Schingler (CSO)
|Products||"Dove", "RapidEye", and "SkySat" imaging satellites|
|Services||Satellite-based Earth imaging and analytics|
Number of employees
|480 (as of March 2018[update])|
The images gathered by Doves, which can be accessed online and some of which is available under an open data access policy, provide up-to-date information relevant to climate monitoring, crop yield prediction, urban planning, and disaster response. With acquisition of BlackBridge in July 2015, Planet Labs had 87 Dove and 5 RapidEye satellites launched into orbit. In 2017, Planet launched an additional 88 Dove satellites, and Google sold its subsidiary Terra Bella and its SkySat satellite constellation to Planet Labs. The combined batches of Doves form the largest constellation ever put into orbit. By September 2018 the company had launched nearly 300 satellites, 150 of which are active.
Planet Labs was founded in 2010 as Cosmogia by former NASA scientists Chris Boshuizen, Will Marshall, and Robbie Schingler. The initial goal of the company was to make use of information gathered from space to help with life on Earth. The group of scientists considered the problem with most satellites to be their large and clunky form, prompting them to build inexpensive and compact satellites to be manufactured in bulk, called CubeSats. The small group began building Planet's first satellite in a California garage.
Planet Labs launched two demonstration CubeSats, Dove 1 and Dove 2, in April 2013. Both Dove 1 and Dove 2 (aboard a Soyuz Rocket) were placed in a sun-synchronous orbit. Dove 3 and Dove 4 were launched in November 2013.
The Flock-1 CubeSats were brought to the International Space Station in January 2014 and deployed via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer in mid-February. The company planned to launch a total of 131 satellites by mid-2015.
On April 18, 2017, Google completed the sale of Terra Bella and its SkySat satellite constellation to Planet Labs. As part of the sale, Google acquired an equity stake in Planet and entered into a multi-year agreement to purchase SkySat imaging data.
On January 21, 2018, a Dove Pioneer CubeSat was part of the payload of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket, the first orbital-entry craft launched from a privately owned and operated spaceport at Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.
On December 18, 2018, Planet announced they were in the process of acquiring the St Louis company, Boundless Spatial, Inc., a geospatial software solutions company. The geospatial data management software of Boundless will help improve geospatial data subscription services and aid in Planet's long term goal of increasing cooperation between the company and the U.S. government.
The flock consists of multiple satellite constellations which are designed to observe Earth. By using several small satellites, CubeSats, constellation produce three to five meters high resolution images of Earth. The flock collects images from latitudes that are within 52 degrees of Earth's equator. A large portion of the world's agricultural regions and population lie within the area imaged by the flock. Started in 2014, the mission uses ISS (the International Space Station) and different track launch vehicle to get in orbit.
Flock 1 satellites are CubeSats that weigh 4 kilograms (8.8 lb) (1000 times lower than legacy commercial imaging satellites), 10 cm × 10 cm × 30 cm (3.9 in × 3.9 in × 11.8 in) in length, width and height, orbit at a height of about 400 kilometres (250 mi) and provide imagery with a resolution of 3–5 m (9.8–16.4 ft) and envisaged environmental, humanitarian, and business applications.
Flock 2p, consisting of twelve Dove satellites, and Flock 3p, consisting of 88 Dove satellites, were launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) PSLV-C37 on 22 June 2016 and 15 February 2017, respectively. Flock 3p was the largest satellite fleet ever launched.
Flock 3k, consisting of 12 dove satellites, was launched on December 26, 2018 at 5:00 00Z. The flock was launched on a Soyuz Rocket from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia into a sun-synchronous orbit. [clarification needed]
RapidEye is a five-satellite constellation producing 5-metre (16 ft) resolution imagery that Planet acquired from the German company BlackBridge.
The satellites were built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) of Guildford, subcontracted by MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) of Richmond, Canada. Each satellite is based on an evolution of the flight-proven SSTL-100 bus, and measures less than 1 cubic metre (35 cu ft) and weighs 150 kilograms (330 lb) (bus + payload). They were launched on 29 August 2008 on a Dnepr rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
Each of RapidEye's five satellites contain identical Jena-Optronik Spaceborne Scanner JSS 56 multi-spectral pushbroom sensor imagers. The 5 satellites travel on the same orbital plane (at an altitude of 630 km), and together are capable of collecting over 4 million km (2.5 million mi) of 5-metre (16 ft) resolution, 5-band color imagery every day. They collect data in the Blue (440-510 nm), Green (520-590 nm), Red (630-690 nm), Red-Edge (690-730 nm) and Near-Infrared (760-880 nm).
SkySat is a constellation of sub-meter resolution Earth observation satellites that provide imagery, high-definition video and analytics services. Planet acquired the satellites with their purchase of Terra Bella (formerly Skybox Imaging), a Mountain View, California-based company founded in 2009 by Dan Berkenstock, Julian Mann, John Fenwick, and Ching-Yu Hu, from Google in 2017.
The SkySat satellites are based on the CubeSat concept, using inexpensive automotive grade electronics and fast commercially available processors, but scaled up to approximately the size of a minifridge. The satellites are approximately 80 centimetres (31 in) long, compared to approximately 30 centimetres (12 in) for a 3U CubeSat, and weigh 100 kilograms (220 lb).
The first SkySat satellite, SkySat-1, was launched on a Dnepr (rocket) from Yasny, Russia on 21 November 2013, and the second, SkySat-2, launched on a Soyuz-2/Fregat rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on 8 July 2014. Four more SkySat units were launched on 16 September 2016, by the Vega rocket's seventh flight from Kourou, and six more SkySat satellites, along with four Dove CubeSats, were launched on a Minotaur-C rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 31 October 2017.
SkySat 1 is orbiting at an altitude of 450 kilometres (280 mi) and has a multispectral, panchromatic, and video sensor. It has a spatial resolution of 0.9 meters in its 400–900 nm panchromatic band, making it the smallest satellite to be put in orbit capable of such high resolution imagery. The multispectral sensor collects data in blue (450–515 nm), green (515–595 nm), red (605–695 nm), and near-infrared (740–900 nm) bands, all at 2 meter resolution.
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