Jun 9, 2020 - Science

Planet to start selling its satellite images to new customers

A photo of Earth taken by Planet's new 50-centimeter imagery.

Planet's new 50-centimeter imagery. Photo: Planet Labs Inc.

Planet, a company that operates more than 100 small imagery satellites in orbit, is rolling out plans to bring its trove of data to new customers across industry and government.

Why it matters: Satellite operators are now able to beam back huge amounts of data from orbit each day, but that hasn't necessarily translated into big rewards and commercial success.

Details: Planet's launch of six new SkySats on two upcoming SpaceX launches is expected to let its customers see the same spot on Earth up to 12 times per day.

  • The company is also moving some of its spacecraft in orbit in order to get higher-resolution images, showing objects as small as 50 centimeters instead of 80 centimeters.
  • "The easier we've made it for our customers to consume the data, the more imagery they want," Jim Thomason, Planet's vice president of imagery products, told Axios.
  • To that end, the company is also rolling out a new tool that will allow customers to task its SkySat satellites to get them to take photos of points on the Earth that are of interest.

The big picture: Planet expects its customers will be able to use the higher resolution imaging for urban planning or border security.

  • "Another great example is being able to see rooftops a little bit more clearly so you can better plan how to install solar panels," Mike Safyan, Planet's vice president of launch, told Axios.
  • Companies and governments can also potentially use the rapidly acquired images throughout a day to create "stop motion" images of various areas to see how they change over a short period of time.

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