Curious Planeteer working to make the Earth's changes visible, accessible and actionable.

A Clear Look at the Earth’s Surface: Planet’s Surface Reflectance Beta


Planet brings down a lot of imagery. Every day over 160 Dove satellites downlink 340 million square kilometers of imagery – more than two times the total landmass of earth. With such a large number of individual satellites capturing so much imagery, consistent image processing and radiometric calibration across the fleet are a key requirement for producing a useful dataset for our users. And so today, we’re excited to release our Surface Reflectance Beta product, which makes Surface Reflectance for all 4-band orthorectified scenes produced by Dove satellites available to our customers and community.

Our surface reflectance product provides an accurate picture of the Earth’s surface; with the effects of the atmosphere, sensor characteristics, and spatial and seasonal variations in lighting minimized. Planet uses an industry-standard atmospheric model combined with additional independent satellite observations to compensate for the state of the atmosphere. Our calibration process ensures unique sensor characteristics and sensor-to-sensor variability are accounted for, allowing Planet surface reflectance to be directly combined with complementary datasets. This process makes our data consistent across seasons, across continents, and across instruments. Whether it is quantifying land cover change, monitoring farmland, or extracting features on the landscape, the surface reflectance product enables principled insights.

A true color comparison of the surface reflectance product (top) and a top of atmosphere reflectance image (bottom) in adjacent scenes captured by the same satellite.

To start exploring our Surface Reflectance Beta product, check availability in the API. In this beta release, Surface Reflectance data is available globally from October 1, 2017, and in select agricultural regions of North America from 2016.

Planet knows that having more satellites than anyone else is only half the battle, and that collecting and making the data from those satellites available and useful to customers is the most important problem to solve. Surface Reflective Beta offers businesses, governments, and researchers more calibrated data than ever to detect change and better understand the areas they care about most.

For more information on the technical specifications our Surface Reflectance product, read our white paper here.