Lake Macdonald, Australia Mar 23, 2016

Our Approach

Aerospace know-how meets Silicon Valley ingenuity.

Agile Aerospace

Planet is designing, building and launching satellites faster than any company or government in history. We 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, our capabilities are on the cutting edge and always advancing.

Meet the Dove

Planet’s Dove satellites act like a line scanner for the planet, creating a unique data stream that helps solve our world’s toughest challenges and triggers industry-changing opportunities.

Our Doves, which make up the world’s largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites, are launched in Flocks and provides a whole-Earth dataset that is unmatched in its breadth and freshness.

Radio Antennas

Satellites communicate a few times daily with ground stations on Earth. In addition to sending down images, we gather a variety of health data and occasionally send them new instructions or software updates.

Optics and Sensors

The main camera captures images of the Earth at 3 to 5 meter resolution. Each Dove continuously photographs the Earth’s surface as it moves in orbit, completing an orbit roughly every 90 minutes (about 16 complete orbits in each 24-hour period). The Doves carry a star camera, which allows us to position the image on Earth.

Power

Solar panels capture the sun’s rays to power the satellite, generating electricity that is stored in batteries. The solar panels are spring-loaded, remaining folded into the satellite body before deployment.

Bus

In addition to housing our numerous subsystems, each Dove carries laser-etched side panels designed by our first artist-in-residence, Forest Stearns.

Vertical Integration

Most Earth-imaging companies do not build their own satellites. Planet is not most Earth-imaging companies. We design and build our satellites in-house because it allows us to iterate often and pack the latest technology into our small satellites. This complete vertical integration enables us to respond quickly to customer needs. Planet’s imagery is more than meets the eye - it’s a dataset that keeps getting better.

Orbit Operations

Operating one satellite is a challenge. Operating a hundred is unprecedented. Planet’s Mission Control team is developing custom automation software that manages our whole fleet of satellites. This software allows just a handful of people to schedule imaging windows, push new software in-orbit and download images to 30 ground stations throughout the world.

Data Pipeline

Our data pipeline is built to live online, ensuring easy and intuitive web access to Planet’s latest imagery and complete archive. This means automated compositing of scenes into mosaics, served on scalable tile servers for simplicity. It means every scene is available as a tile service. And it means building time sliced mosaics, so you know exactly when every image was captured.

Image Processing

Planet processes and delivers imagery as quickly as possible. Our scalable cloud-based platform is designed and built by leading experts in geospatial processing and cloud computing, and can be spun up or down to handle any amount of data. We use Amazon Web Services and allow custom processing running in the same Availability Zone to tap directly into our data in the exact same way we do.