On October 31, 2017, Orbital ATK Minotaur-C rocket launched 2 sets of satellites for Planet Labs, a satellite company who focuses on Earth imaging. The launch was from Vandenberg Air Force base in California at approximately 2:37pm PST. The rocket’s payload consisted of 6 SkySat satellites and 4 Dove cubesats. The SkySat satellites can take images of high resolution (up to 86cm). On the other hand, the Dove cubesats are aimed to join a constellation of 160 Dove cubesats that provide medium-resolution imagery.
With the constellation of cubesats and satellites, Planet can take images of the earth every day. In fact, they are taking 1.4 million images of 29 megapixels that cover up to 300 million km2 per day. This declares Planet’s ‘Mission 1’ a seccess!
With all this information being gathered by Planet, there is going to have to be a way to analyze it. The obvious option is machine learning. With images so clear from the SkySat, the satellites will be able to count the number of cars in a lot. On the other hand, the Dove cubesats will be able to calculate the area of the lot (in this example) and use that to estimate the number of cars that can fit in that lot. The possible applications for this imagery are endless. Planet says they are now shifting to analytics using their in-house machine learning algorithms. Another goal for Planet is to have companies and people around the world make better decisions by seeing how the world is being affected on a daily basis. Planet wants to index physical changes on Earth, the same way Google indexed the world wide web.
For more information, please visit https://www.planet.com/