Planet Pulse

Updates, insights, fun and other musings about the state of the planet.

Hallo, Nederland! Planet Hosts PM Mark Rutte; to Open Office in the Netherlands

Today, Netherlands Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, stopped by the Lab.

I speak for myself and everyone at Planet Labs when I say that we are honored to welcome Prime Minister Rutte to our San Francisco office. He joined us today as part of a larger tour of innovative technology companies in the Bay Area. During the visit, my Co-founder, Will Marshall, and I led Prime Minister Rutte on a tour of our office and our mass satellite manufacturing facility; described our development model called agile aerospace; and sat down for a meeting to discuss the growing startup ecosystem in the Netherlands.

Robbie Schingler, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Will Marshall. Photo courtesy of the office of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

This visit marks the start to a very exciting time for Planet Labs. Hot off the heels of our acquisition of Blackbridge (with offices in Berlin, Germany and Lethbridge, Canada), we’re excited to announce that in 2016 we will open up a new office in the Netherlands.

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A Planet Labs image of the Hague, Netherlands, captured on February 18, 2015

The Netherlands is an excellent gateway to the European space community and startup ecosystem. Planet has a longstanding partnership with Delft-based nanosatellite company, Innovation Solutions in Space, and ESA’s ESTEC, Europe’s leading space research and technology center based in the Noordwijk. Additionally, the Netherlands has been attracting global technology companies and over the last couple of months we’ve built a strong relationship with StartupDelta that’s connecting us to a network of researchers and developers who are building cutting-edge geospatial software products in Europe.

This is an important year for Planet Labs. Our constellation of on-orbit satellites is rapidly growing and our data platform is hosting more and more of the world’s innovators, who are building applications with Planet’s real-time dataset. Expanding our global presence and developing stronger relationships with governments and innovative companies is an early step in a world-wide movement to understand global change.

More data to more people…faster: RapidEye data in Scenes Explorer

It’s a big day for us here at Planet. After months of hard work, we are pleased to offer historical RapidEye imagery to customers and partners through the Planet Scenes Explorer web application. In 2016 we will make the entire RapidEye archive accessible dating back to 2009.

An image of Berlin, Germany, captured by a RapidEye satellite

Authorized platform users can now explore their areas of interest using three unique imagery datasets: Planetscope, RapidEye and & Landsat 8. To get started, simply:

1) Select an area of interest
2) Open the filter panel
3) You’ll notice a new section listing RapidEye, in addition to PlanetScope and Landsat.

Take a look at our RapidEye data in action in the Scenes Explorer:


RapidEye imagery displayed in the Scenes Explorer is limited to Zoom Level 12 or approx. 38 m / pixel (according to OpenStreetMap standards). You can add images to your cart and download them to view and explore imagery at higher resolutions. Try it out here: We’re thrilled to release this incredible data set to Scenes Explorer, and are excited to see the novel applications that our user ecosystem develops.

Landsat Imagery now available in the Planet Scenes Explorer

We are excited to introduce the ability to view scenes from Landsat 8 in the Planet Scenes Explorer. You can now view and order Landsat data directly in the web application.

To explore the data:
1) Select an area of interest
2) Open the filter panel
3) You’ll notice a new section listing both PlanetScope and Landsat—toggle to Landsat.

Take a look at Landsat data in Scenes Explorer:


Planet Platform users can already access all Landsat data displayed in this experience through the Planet API. Try it out here:

Deep Learning & Satellite Imagery Are Changing the Way We Look at Agriculture

We’ve created a new destination for the most compelling applications of Planet’s imagery that we’re calling “Planet Stories” on Medium. We’re going to fill it with fun stories about science, people and cool companies here on Earth; along with exciting observations that can only be made from space.

We’re thrilled to kick off our Stories channel with a look at our geeky brethren at Descartes Labs—a deep learning startup founded by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists and comp-sci wonks.

Descartes is using their own computer vision and machine learning techniques to analyze tons of Planet Labs and other satellite imagery, recognize patterns, and make insanely accurate agricultural predictions. nir blog Planet Labs color-balanced RGB mosaic of Clinton, Iowa on top, and corresponding color infrared image behind.

This New Mexico startup is teaching computers how to think…and they’re on the way to transforming how big data analysis is done.

Check out the first Stories installment.

Understand our Planet, #LoveEarth

Astronauts often talk about the “Overview Effect”— a realization that we’re all living together on a small, fragile “pale blue dot”.

At Planet we look at imagery from space everyday. It’s hard not to experience this effect as we watch mines deepen, cities flourish, and rivers change course from above. That’s why we started— a non-profit affiliated with Planet Labs, designed to use space, earth imagery, and technology to better understand our dynamic planet; advance humanitarian causes; and ensure the sustainability and welfare of life on Earth.

The first major initiative is the #LoveEarth campaign and Facebook page for planet Earth. It’s a go-to destination for anyone who wants to understand, appreciate, and take greater ownership over our changing planet.

We partnered with leading data design studio Vizzuality to create this real-time global map of #LoveEarth Instagram posts and Facebook likes. To represent the overwhelming response we’ve seen in just the first few weeks of the campaign, they worked closely with CartoDB and their Torque library to build this high performance visualization.

carto final See who loves Earth in real-time. We partnered with CartoDB and Vizzuality to create this real-time, global map of #LoveEarth Instagram posts and Facebook likes.

The Earth Facebook page launched in preparation for the COP21 in Paris. This week, Planet Labs CEO, Will Marshall, sat down with special advisor to UN Secretary-General Robert C. Orr at the Caring for Climate Business Forum to discuss how new technologies and data can help the global community solve humanity’s greatest challenges.

paris-seasons-gif-2 Landsat 8 images of the Paris metropolitan area show seasonal change over the course of one year

The Facebook page for Earth seeks to escalate the climate change dialogue from passionate communities that know it well to a public forum ready for a new perspective of Earth. We encourage everyone to better understand our changing planet. Learn about the planet, join the cause, and #LoveEarth.

California Seasonal Mosaics, Now Available to All

In October, we launched the beta version of the Planet Platform and released Open California imagery under an open license. Our goal was to open up our growing imagery archive and enable people to start developing and testing their applications, including the new California seasonal mosaics.

Today we’re excited to make our California seasonal mosaics available to anyone, regardless of whether they have a Planet Platform account. Anyone who visits will be able to explore our data by simply panning and zooming around California. This feature uses quarterly mosaics from 2013 to present day and encourages visitors to explore dynamic California landscapes by moving back and forth through time in our mosaic set. In addition, visitors can fly between key locations in California by using the “Take me to…” buttons.

It’s pretty cool:

Planet Platform users can access all of the mosaics displayed in this experience through the Planet API and Mosaics Explorer web application. If you don’t have an account, sign up today at!

So what are you waiting for? Start exploring :)

Flock 2e Launches Successfully On Atlas V – Cygnus OA-4

We have liftoff!

After three days of weather delays and false pancake starts, Team Planet finally watched the fourth attempt and successful launch of twelve Flock 2e Doves aboard the Cygnus spacecraft. Since the company’s founding in 2010, a total of 113 Dove satellites have successfully reached orbit on six different launch vehicles over twelve launch campaigns.

At 4:44 pm ET, The Atlas V rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft from Cape Canaveral to Low Earth Orbit.

20151203-145635 (1) Team Planet cooks traditional launch day pancakes

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Astronaut Scott Kelly was one of the many viewers of the launch. He captured this image of the launch from onboard the ISS

A longer journey has just begun, however. After reaching Low Earth Orbit, Cygnus successfully deployed its solar arrays and began a two and a half day lateral pursuit of the International Space Station. The Cygnus will reach the ISS on Wednesday, December 9. Astronauts onboard the ISS will use the Canadarm to catch the Cygnus and unload its cargo. NASA TV will livestream the grappling and docking sequence. Flock 2e will then be loaded into the Japanese Kibo module and deployed from the ISS in early 2016.

We’re Pledging 1%

We’ve pledged 1%.

Planet’s vision is to use space to help life on Earth. And now, I’m excited to announce that Planet Labs is joining other companies in committing to the Pledge 1% campaign, a “corporate philanthropy movement dedicated to making the community a key stakeholder in every business.”

Specifically, Planet has pledged one percent of our earthbound resources – or employee time – to community and charitable causes. We’re encouraging every Planet employee to donate one day a quarter of their time to a cause they care about. This can include individual or team volunteering, providing pro-bono service or serving on a board, to name a few. We’ve also pledged over one percent of our product — via our Open California project, our support of natural disasters and pledge to support the #Global Goals.

The movement began in 2014, when Atlassian and Salesforce teamed up to rally philanthropic thinking and action in early-stage companies. Over 500 companies have joined the effort in 2015, and next year, the group aims to garner 1000 total pledges.

I’m thrilled for Planet to be a part of this campaign, and I encourage other companies of all types and sizes to join the effort, and take the pledge.

Ad Astra!

UPDATE: 12 Doves to Hitch a Ride to Space Station Aboard Atlas V

UPDATE: The launch of Flock 2e has been delayed due to weather. The next attempt will be at 5:33 pm eastern on Friday, December 4.

In Cape Canaveral, Florida, twelve of our Dove satellites are packed in the Cygnus spacecraft ready for launch. We’re calling these Doves “Flock 2e”. The Cygnus sits atop ULA’s Atlas V rocket, bound for the International Space Station (ISS). Flock 2e will launch on December 3 at 5:55 pm ET as secondary payload. This is the first time the Doves (and the Cygnus) will hitch a ride on an Atlas V, making it quite the historic event. Including the Atlas V, Planet Labs will have flown on 6 different types of launch vehicles across 12 different launches.

The Cygnus will carry over 7000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the ISS. According to SpaceFlightNow: “This will be the heaviest payload ever launched by an Atlas rocket and the vehicle’s first flight dedicated to the International Space Station.”

Once in space, the Cygnus spacecraft will accelerate laterally and “chase down” the space station over the course of three days. After the spacecraft docks with the ISS, astronauts will unload the cargo, and pack Flock 2e two-by-two into Nanoracks deployers. To learn more about our work with Nanoracks and the ISS watch this video:

To watch the launch live along with Team Planet, tune in to NASA TV’s live-stream on December 3.

Planet Labs Adds Three Executives to Its Growing Team

We’re growing! Planet Labs is excited to welcome three new members to our executive team: David Oppenheimer, Chief Financial Officer; Andy Wild, Chief Revenue Officer; and Karthik Govindhasamy, SVP Spacecraft Engineering. All three are key additions for us as we expand our satellite constellation and imagery dataset, sign more customer contracts, and mature our software platform.

David Oppenheimer is a technology executive with over 20 years of experience leading financial organizations at a diverse set of companies. Notably as a serial CFO, David has navigated several startups through the IPO process, mergers, and acquisitions. “It’s an exciting time to join Planet. We’re an innovative enterprise with a growing imagery archive, the largest constellation of earth-imaging satellites ever, and a unique product offering. I’m diving right in and look forward to the company’s future expansion.”

Andy Wild joins as CRO to head Planet’s Sales team. His deep experience in sales execution and driving SaaS businesses will drive the company’s top line performance. For over 25 years, he’s held senior positions at global technology companies and served on advisory boards. “Planet’s creating a radical, new, global dataset that has the potential to expand–and even redefine–a broad variety of markets from financial services to agriculture. I’m thrilled to work with such a talented, committed team building a truly game changing company.”

Karthik Govindhasamy comes to Planet as a seasoned engineering executive, with over 20 years of experience in the consumer electronics industry. Previously, Karthik was Head of Engineering for Nokia’s Connected Devices where he successfully launched Nokia’s first Windows tablet for worldwide distribution, and at Microsoft, he led the development of the Surface product line. “I was naturally drawn to Planet’s bold vision of imaging the Earth everyday. Planet’s a mission-driven organization that’s changing the way spacecraft are designed, manufactured and operated. I’m thrilled to lead this talented team of Spacecraft engineers.”

I’m personally very excited to welcome all three execs. Since I joined about a year ago, Planet’s headcount (and satellite constellation) has almost doubled in size. And now we have the executive-level firepower to match.