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.
Our team in San Francisco poses with Flock 2p
The enhanced onboard technology is just the first important component of this launch—the second is the Sun Synchronous Orbit. In this orbit our Doves will pass each spot on the ground at the same time every day. The resulting consistent sun angle makes it easy for the human eye (and computer vision algorithms) to spot changes in the imagery over time.
Doves image in a Sun Synchronous Orbit as the Earth rotates underneath
Many of our previous launches have deployed from the International Space Station into a lower orbit, making this launch only our third to go to this higher orbit. Moving forward, Planet will deploy the majority of its satellites into SSO, making this the first of many large SSO launches manifested in the next twelve months. This launch is a very large step towards our goal of imaging the entire Earth every day.