Planet Strikes Landmark Deal with Orbital Insight to Address Financial Markets

I am ecstatic to announce today that Planet has struck an unprecedented deal with the geo- analytics company, Orbital Insight. Together, we’re making a strong expansion into the financial sector.

This partnership represents some of the most exciting trends happening in the geo world. And the reason is simple: Five years ago, a partnership like this wouldn’t have been possible because the capabilities didn’t exist. Datasets like Planet’s (broad coverage, high frequency monitoring from nano satellite constellations) were the domain of academic papers, and machine learning driven geo-analytics just weren’t happening in commercial markets. We have come an awfully long way.

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An Insider’s Look: The Space Data Chain

I have a unique job in the aerospace industry. As a “Spaceship Captain” (my actual job title!), I operate a fleet of over 60 orbiting satellites, designed and built in-house. These satellites capture and downlink millions of images of our planet every day. Captaining a fleet this large—especially with a team as small as ours— requires a healthy dose of automation. But our satellite operations are just the start of a complex, automated data chain.

We have teams of engineers working to maintain a network of ground stations, maximize our image processing pipeline, and continuously add features to our cloud-based software. When you put all of these elements together, you get a first-of-its-kind system that can handle huge amounts of imagery from space and send them down to your computer in a matter of hours.

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Planet Observes Unprecedented Tree Die-off in California

Rich oranges, deep reds and bright yellows dot otherwise olive-colored forests. But the colors are not leaves of eastern hardwoods announcing the arrival of autumn. No, they’re the death throes of vast swaths of coniferous forests in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

From Yosemite all the way to Bakersfield, as many as 66 million trees—possibly more—are standing dead in California’s forests. The prolonged drought and other stressors have taken an unambiguous toll.

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Planet Eyes Trade at China—North Korea Border

Planet’s constellation of 50-plus satellites has imaged one border crossing between China and North Korea nearly 20 times in the last six months. Collectively, this deep stack of images provides valuable evidence to analysts interested in the state of trade between the two countries.

In our latest Planet Stories article, nonproliferation and East Asia studies expert, Jeffrey Lewis, analyzes satellite imagery of the border towns of Dandong, China and Sinuiju, North Korea; using our frequent data to elaborate on trade relations in the region.
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Planet Diversifies Launch Manifest; Signs Deal With Rocket Lab

Over the last 3 years, Planet has launched 14 times from 4 different countries (U.S., Russia, Japan and India), totalling 179 satellites (of which 145 successfully reached space). For satellite manufacturers, launch is the lifeblood of the mission. It doesn’t matter how amazing a satellite we have designed and built if we can’t get it into space. As the Director of Launch at Planet, I have seen all the highs and lows (pun intended) of trying to get our Doves into space, and we’ve really seen it all – launch successes, launch delays, and launch failures.

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A Recap: Planet Goes to the Esri User Conference

Sixteen thousand geographers, imagery geeks, and data providers and users flooded San Diego, CA last week for Esri’s annual user conference (EsriUC). Planet joined one of the industry’s largest events for an eventful week with the GIS community.

For Planet, EsriUC kicked off with a pre-conference event called the Imagery and Mapping Forum. Alongside other presenters, Planet was invited to speak about our company, our imagery products, and integration with Esri. We covered this in our session titled ‘Global Sensing Revolution’, which was part of the ‘Mapping from Space’ track.

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Flock 2p Launches Successfully on PSLV

Twelve of our Flock 2p Dove satellites have just been deployed from the side of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) into a Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). They’re currently hurtling around the Earth at a 500 km altitude. Once they make first contact, they’ll tweet, and then they’ll race their way through an automated commissioning and calibration process.

We’ve internally referred to these Doves—our 13th satellite design iteration—as the first of our “workhorse” flocks. Every Flock 2p satellite is crammed with the latest hardware and images in both Red Green Blue (RGB) and near infrared (NIR) bands.

 

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12 Doves launching to 500km SSO

Twelve Dove satellites, collectively known as “Flock 2p”, will be launching on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket on June 22 at 03:55 GMT (June 21 at 20:55 PDT) to a 500 km altitude Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

This is our first launch to a Sun Synchronous Orbit this year. SSO’s 97-degree orbital inclination helps us collect a truly global imagery dataset. On top of that, SSO’s regular mid-morning pass times provide consistent lighting conditions (sun angle and shadows) that make it easier for humans (and algorithms) to detect changes in our imagery from day to day.

 

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