Planet Labs

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Planet Labs, Inc.
Private
Industry
Founded December 29, 2010[1][2]
Founder Will Marshall, Chris Boshuizen, Robbie Schingler[1][2]
Headquarters San Francisco, CA, U.S.[2]
Number of locations
6 offices (USA, Germany, Netherlands, Canada)[2]
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Will Marshall (CEO)
Robbie Schingler (CSO)[3][1]
Products "Dove", "RapidEye", and "SkySat" imaging satellites
Services Satellite-based Earth imaging and analytics
Number of employees
480 (as of March 2018)[4]
Website planet.com

Planet Labs, Inc. (formerly Cosmogia, Inc.) is an American private Earth imaging company based in San Francisco, CA.[1][2] The company designs and manufactures Triple-CubeSat miniature satellites called Doves that are then delivered into orbit as secondary payloads on other rocket launch missions. Each Dove is equipped with a high-powered telescope and camera programmed to capture different swaths of Earth.[5] Each Dove Earth observation satellite continuously scans Earth, sending data once it passes over a ground station. Together, Doves form a satellite constellation that provides a complete image of Earth once per day at 3–5 m optical resolution.[6]

The images gathered by Doves, which can be accessed online and some of which is available under an open data access policy[7], provide up-to-date information relevant to climate monitoring, crop yield prediction, urban planning, and disaster response.[1] With acquisition of BlackBridge in July 2015, Planet Labs had 87 Dove and 5 RapidEye satellites launched into orbit.[8] In 2017, Planet launched an additional 88 Dove satellites, and Google sold its subsidiary Terra Bella and its SkySat satellite constellation to Planet Labs.[9][10][11] The combined batches of Doves form the largest fleet ever put into orbit[5].

History[edit]

First pair of the 28 Planet Labs satellites launched from the ISS via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (2014)

Planet Labs was founded in 2010 as Cosmogia by former NASA scientists Chris Boshuizen, Will Marshall, and Robbie Schingler.[12][13][14]

Planet Labs launched two demonstration CubeSats, Dove 1 and Dove 2, in April 2013.[15] Dove 3 and Dove 4 were launched in November 2013.[13]

In June 2013, it announced plans for Flock-1, a constellation of 28 Earth-observing satellites.[15]

The Flock-1 CubeSats were brought to the International Space Station in January 2014[16] and deployed via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer in mid-February.[17] The company planned to launch a total of 131 satellites by mid-2015.[18]

In January 2015, the firm raised $95 million in funding.[19] As of May 2015, Planet Labs raised a total amount of $183 million in venture capital financing.[20]

In July 2015, Planet Labs acquired BlackBridge and its RapidEye constellation.[21]

On April 18, 2017, Google completed the sale of Terra Bella and its SkySat satellite constellation to Planet Labs.[9][10][22] As part of the sale, Google acquired an equity stake in Planet and entered into a multi-year agreement to purchase SkySat imaging data.[23]

On January 21, 2018, a Dove Pioneer CubeSat was part of the payload of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket, the first orbital-entry craft launched from a privately owned and operated spaceport at Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.[citation needed]

In July 2018, Planet laid off somewhat less than ten percent of its workforce.[24]

Satellite constellations[edit]

Flock[edit]

Flock consists multiple satellite constellation which are designed to observe Earth. By using several small satellites, CubeSats, constellation produce three to five meters high resolution images of Earth. Started in 2014, the mission uses ISS (the International Space Station) and different track launch vehicle to get in orbit.[25]

Flock 1 satellites are CubeSats that weigh 4 kilograms (8.8 lb) (1000 times lower than legacy commercial imaging satellites), 10 cm × 10 cm × 30 cm (3.9 in × 3.9 in × 11.8 in) in length, width and height,[26] orbit at a height of about 400 kilometres (250 mi) and provide imagery with a resolution of 3–5 m (9.8–16.4 ft) and envisaged environmental, humanitarian, and business applications.[27][28]

Flock 2e, consisting of twenty 3U CubeSats,[29] was launched on 23 March 2016 on the Cygnus CRS OA-6 cargo mission.[30]

Flock 2p, consisting of twelve Dove satellites, and Flock 3p, consisting of 88 Dove satellites, were launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) PSLV-C34s on 22 June 2016 and 15 February 2017, respectively.[31][32][33] Flock 3p was the largest satellite fleet ever launched.[34]

Flock 2k, consisting of 48 satellites, launched on 14 July 2017 aboard Soyuz-2.1a.[35][36]

Flock 3m, consisting of just four dove satellites, was launched in 31 October 2017 on a Minotaur C rocket, along with six of Planet's SkySat satellites.[37]

Flock 3p', which consists of four dove satellites, was launched in India ISRO's PSLV-C40 mission on 12 January 2018.[38]

Dukono, Indonesia, 2016-08-24 by Planet Labs.jpg
Dukono, Indonesia, 2016-08-25 by Planet Labs.jpg
Dukono, Indonesia, 2017-03-29 by Planet Labs.jpg
Three images of Mount Dukono located in the northern part of Halmahera island, Indonesia. Due to the Dove satellites orbiting in 'flocks', it's possible to make daily or even hourly image updates of the earth's surface.

RapidEye[edit]

RapidEye is a five-satellite constellation producing 5-metre (16 ft) resolution imagery that Planet acquired from the German company BlackBridge.

The satellites were built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL)[39] of Guildford, subcontracted by MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) of Richmond, Canada. Each satellite is based on an evolution of the flight-proven SSTL-100 bus, and measures less than 1 cubic metre (35 cu ft) and weighs 150 kilograms (330 lb) (bus + payload). They were launched on 29 August 2008 on a Dnepr rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.[40]

Each of RapidEye's five satellites contain identical Jena-Optronik Spaceborne Scanner JSS 56[41] multi-spectral pushbroom sensor imagers. The 5 satellites travel on the same orbital plane (at an altitude of 630 km), and together are capable of collecting over 4 million km (2.5 million mi) of 5-metre (16 ft) resolution, 5-band color imagery every day. They collect data in the Blue (440-510 nm), Green (520-590 nm), Red (630-690 nm), Red-Edge (690-730 nm) and Near-Infrared (760-880 nm).

SkySat[edit]

SkySat is a constellation of sub-meter resolution Earth observation satellites that provide imagery, high-definition video and analytics services.[22] Planet acquired the satellites with their purchase of Terra Bella (formerly Skybox Imaging), a Mountain View, California-based company founded in 2009 by Dan Berkenstock, Julian Mann, John Fenwick, and Ching-Yu Hu,[42] from Google in 2017.[43]

The SkySat satellites are based on the CubeSat concept, using inexpensive automotive grade electronics and fast commercially available processors,[44] but scaled up to approximately the size of a minifridge.[45] The satellites are approximately 80 centimetres (31 in) long, compared to approximately 30 centimetres (12 in) for a 3U CubeSat, and weigh 100 kilograms (220 lb).[45]

The first SkySat satellite, SkySat-1, was launched on a Dnepr (rocket) from Yasny, Russia on 21 November 2013,[46] and the second, SkySat-2, launched on a Soyuz-2/Fregat rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on 8 July 2014.[47] Four more SkySat units were launched on 16 September 2016, by the Vega rocket's seventh flight from Kourou,[48] and six more SkySat satellites, along with four Dove CubeSats, were launched on a Minotaur-C rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 31 October 2017.[49][50]

SkySat 1 is orbiting at an altitude of 450 kilometres (280 mi) and has a multispectral, panchromatic, and video sensor. It has a spatial resolution of 0.9 meters in its 400–900 nm panchromatic band, making it the smallest satellite to be put in orbit capable of such high resolution imagery. The multispectral sensor collects data in blue (450–515 nm), green (515–595 nm), red (605–695 nm), and near-infrared (740–900 nm) bands, all at 2 meter resolution.[51]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Planet Labs website". Planet.co. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Crunchbase profile of Planet Labs". Crunchbase.com. 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  3. ^ "Planet Labs Website". Planet.com. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  4. ^ "Planet Labs Website". Planet.com. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "The Tiny Satellites Ushering in the New Space Revolution". Bloomberg.com. 2017-06-29. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  6. ^ "Mission 1 Complete!". Planet.com. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  7. ^ "Planet Explorer". Planet.com. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  8. ^ Tepper, Fitz (15 July 2015). "Satellite Maker Planet Labs Acquires BlackBridge's Geospatial Business". TechCrunch.com. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Google sells satellite imaging business Terra Bella to Planet Labs". Reuters. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Planet to Acquire Terra Bella from Google, Sign Multi-Year Data Contract" (Press release). Planet Labs. 3 February 2017.
  11. ^ Gordon, Amy (2017-02-04). "Google Sells Satellite Imaging Business Terra Bella To Planet". Tech Times. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  12. ^ Brewster, Signe. "With plans to launch 28 satellites next year, at Planet Labs, the space industry is back", gigaom.com, 2 August 2013. Retrieved on 18 September 2013.
  13. ^ a b Graham, William. "Russian Dnepr conducts record breaking 32 satellite haul", nasaspaceflight.com, 21 November 2013. Retrieved on 26 November 2013.
  14. ^ Solon, Olivia. "In pictures: Planet Labs' nanosatellites", Wired, 13 August 2013. Retrieved on 26 November 2013.
  15. ^ a b Wall, Mike. "Planet Labs Unveils Tiny Earth-Observation Satellite Family", space.com, 31 August 2013. Retrieved on 18 September 2013.
  16. ^ Wall, Mike. "Record-Breaking 33 'Cubesats' to Launch from Space Station This Month", space.com, 4 February 2014. Retrieved on 6 February 2014.
  17. ^ Klotz, Irene. "Satellite 'Flock' Launched From ISS Cubesat Cannon: Photos", discovery.com, 18 February 2014, Retrieved on 25 April 2014.
  18. ^ Taylor, Richard. "Mini-satellites send high-definition views of Earth", BBC, 15 May 2014. Retrieved on 16 May 2014.
  19. ^ Reuters (20 January 2015). "SpaceX raises $1 billion in funding from Google, Fidelity". NewsDaily. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015.
  20. ^ Sarah Buhr. "Planet Labs Rockets To $118 Million In Series C Funding To Cover The Earth In Tiny Satellites". TechCrunch. AOL.
  21. ^ Foust, Jeff (2015-07-15). "Planet Labs Buying BlackBridge and its RapidEye Constellation". Space News. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Terra Bella Officially Joins Planet". planet.com. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  23. ^ Foust, Jeff (19 April 2017). "Planet confirms Google stake as Terra Bella deal closes - SpaceNews.com". SpaceNews.com. Space News. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  24. ^ Earth observation startup Planet trims workforce by “less than ten percent”, SpaceNews, 18July 2018, accessed 21 July 2018.
  25. ^ "Flock-3m – Minotaur-C – SkySat". spaceflight101.com. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  26. ^ Will Marshall: Tiny satellites that photograph the entire planet, every day. YouTube. 18 November 2014.
  27. ^ Werner, Debra. "With 2 More Cubesats in Orbit, Earth-imaging Startup Planet Labs Ships Next Batch of 28 to Wallops", spacenews.com, 26 November 2013. Retrieved on 26 November 2013.
  28. ^ Bradshaw, Tim. "US start-up to launch record number of satellites", ft.com, 26 November 2013. Retrieved on 26 November 2013.
  29. ^ Krebs, Gunter Dirk (16 January 2016). "The Flock Earth observing constellation". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  30. ^ Graham, William (March 22, 2016). "OA-6 Cygnus launched to the ISS via Atlas V". NASA Spaceflight. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  31. ^ 10 things to know about ISRO's 20 satellites mission Times of India 22 June 2016
  32. ^ Flock-1 Gunther's Space Page 22 June 2016
  33. ^ "Isro creates history, launches 104 satellites in one go". The Times of India. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  34. ^ "India launches 88 earth imaging satellites from Planet Labs". PCWorld. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  35. ^ "Launch Success – Russia's Soyuz Delivers 73 Satellites in Complex Multi-Orbit Mission – Spaceflight101". spaceflight101.com. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  36. ^ "When Doves Fly: 48 Flock 2k Satellites Successfully Launched and Deployed". www.planet.com. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  37. ^ "Ten commercial Earth-observing satellites launched aboard Minotaur-C rocket – Spaceflight Now". spaceflightnow.com. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  38. ^ "Planet to fly four Dove satellites on ISRO's PSLV-C40". Planet Lab. 2017-11-29. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  39. ^ "SSTL's RapidEye blog, 22 May 2008". Archived from the original on 2009-11-05.
  40. ^ "Video of the launch provided by Russian space agency Roscosmos". tvroscosmos.ru. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  41. ^ "Jena-Optronik".
  42. ^ Perry, Tekla S. (1 May 2013). "Start-up Profile: Skybox Imaging". IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  43. ^ Henry, Caleb (2014-08-05). "Google Closes Skybox Imaging Purchase". Via Satellite. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  44. ^ "High-Performance Satellites". Skybox Imaging. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  45. ^ a b "Inside a Startup's Plan to Turn a Swarm of DIY Satellites Into an All-Seeing Eye". wired.com. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  46. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Silo-launched Dnepr rocket delivers 32 satellites to space". Website. Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  47. ^ Hearn, Mark. "Skybox Imaging successfully launches its SkySat-2 Earth observation satellite". Website. 9to5Google. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  48. ^ Clark, Stephen (16 September 2016). "Vega rocket hauls up quintet of Earth observation satellites". Spaceflight Now.
  49. ^ Graham, William (31 October 2017). "Orbital ATK Minotaur-C launches SkySat mission out of Vandenberg". NASASpaceFlight.
  50. ^ "Planet Doubles Sub-1 Meter Imaging Capacity With Successful Launch Of 6 SkySats". www.planet.com (Press release). Planet Labs Inc.
  51. ^ "SkySat-1 Satellite Sensor". Satellite Imaging Corp. Retrieved 2018-03-22.

External links[edit]