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San Francisco seen by a RapidEye satellite. Photo: Planet Labs Inc.

After about 12 years of collecting photos of Earth from orbit, a set of five satellites have closed their eyes on our planet.

The big picture: Planet's RapidEye satellites, which first launched to space in 2008, contributed to a revolution in how we understand our planet.

  • Operating satellites that can see the Earth from space was initially only the purview of the most wealthy nations.
  • However, the recent proliferation of commercial satellite companies makes Earth data available to anyone, changing how we understand weather, climate, industry and more.

Details: Planet acquired the RapidEye satellites from BlackBridge in 2015, and it's created the world's largest collection of 5-meter satellite imagery, according to the company.

  • The constellation of satellites has captured more than 660,000 pictures of Earth's total landmass, Planet said.
  • The satellites' final photos show San Francisco, Berlin and Brandenburg, Germany.
  • The satellites could still function, but Planet says it's ending their operation in part to prevent them from becoming space junk that clutters orbit.

Between the lines: While many companies are collecting and attempting to analyze the data beamed down from orbit each day, big data from space still isn't yet widely applicable to a variety of industries.

  • Most companies that operate Earth-imaging satellites still rely on government contracts and major industries like oil and gas for much of their business.

Go deeper: Tracking epidemics from space

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
14 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.

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