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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.

Go deeper: Five satellites close their eyes on our planet

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Aug 11, 2020 - Science

SpaceX and ULA pull in huge defense contracts

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket takes flight. Photo: SpaceX

The Space Force's announcement last week that United Launch Alliance and SpaceX will launch expensive spy satellites and other military payloads brings a long and often fierce battle for government funds to an end — at least for now.

Why it matters: This type of government money — particularly in light of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic — is key for space companies that often work on thin margins.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
5 mins ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.