Monitoring the world with microsatellites and open source data

Planet Labs uses 149 microsatellites to monitor the pulse of our planet with daily news and imagery, stories, and tech updates.

Current satellite imaging only allows us to look at various disconnected locations. Planet’s always-on, daily imagery provides a global monitoring capability never before possible. Frequent satellite imagery is often a critical component to understanding our increasingly complex, interconnected world. Use Planet’s timely imagery to monitor and understand global activity and patterns of life.

They already have on average over 150 images for each location on the Earth’s land surface. This can be accessed with there Planet Explorer.


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Defense One described how they detected an unplanned military exercise.

They get new imagery coming in every day, you can automate a search for changes at various locations. That means you can detect when a military begins to operate in a given area, and perhaps even deduce what kind of equipment they’re using — all at exponentially less cost than it would take to run the same operation a decade ago.

In 3Gimbals’ case, analysts trained an algorithm to track changes in the quantity and position of white and blue pixels in a given area. That might not sound particularly revolutionary, but it enabled them to verify that the number of military vessels was unusually low during a window of time in March 2016. This meant vessels were missing from a strategically important port. Scouring for additional open-source clues, 3Gimbals verified that Venezuela was running an unscheduled and unplanned military exercise.

They were even able to deduce what types of boats were engaged in the exercise and whether they were new.

Planet Labs has an API and Application developer program.

Planet is designing, building and launching satellites faster than any company or government in history. They use commodity consumer electronics to build highly capable satellites at drastically lower costs. With the most advanced satellites launching into orbit every 3-4 months, their capabilities are on the cutting edge and always advancing.

The images gathered by Doves 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 in orbit. In February 2017, Planet launched an additional 88 Dove satellites. In 2017, Google sold its subsidiary Terra Bella and its SkySat satellite constellation to Planet Labs.

Doves form a satellite constellation that provides a complete image of Earth at 3-5 meter optical resolution and open data access.

Flock-1 satellites are CubeSats that weigh 4 kg (1000 times lower than legacy commercial imaging satellites), 10x10x30 cm 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.

The twenty Flock 2e 3U CubeSats were launched in 23 March 2016 on the Cygnus CRS OA-6 cargo mission.
Twelve Flock-2p Dove satellites each of which weighs just 4.7 kg were launched by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) on 22 June 2016. The PSLV-C34 that carried the 12 Dove satellites lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

On February 15, 2017, (03:58 GMT) Planet launched 88 satellites, which was the largest fleet of satellites to be launched in history. The Dove satellites, collectively known as Flock 3p, rode aboard an ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. They head to a morning crossing time, sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at an approximate altitude of 500 kilometres (310 mi)

The number of small satellites (less than 500 kilograms) from companies and small countriesis expected to surpass 1,500 by the end of the year.

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