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Planet Labs Launches Two More Earth Imaging Satellites

Flock 1 satellites

Flock 1 satellite fleet (Planet Labs)

Planet Labs, a geoscience and data analytics company in San Francisco, launched two more earth imaging satellites in its Dove series, designed to demonstrate the company’s technologies. The satellites, Dove 3 and Dove 4, were launched as payloads on a Russian Dnepr rocket. The company launched Dove 1 and Dove 2 into orbit in April 2013.

Planet Labs is a three year-old enterprise that aims to provide information and analytics about the earth from data captured in its own fleet of small earth imaging satellites. The large number of satellites in its fleet, says the company, will offer broad and continuous earth imagery for decisions on issues such as deforestation and crop yields.

The company’s satellites fly in low earth orbit. Images from the satellites have an optical resolution of 3 to 5 meters, says Planet Labs, high-enough to visualize tree canopies, but not sharp enough to compromise individual privacy. The company released the first Dove satellite images in June 2013.

In December 2013, Planet Labs plans to launch its Flock 1 satellites, a collection of 28 low-orbit satellites. The company says the craft are already at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, where they will be payloads on an Antares rocket. The company expects to make available images and data from the satellites early next year for packaging by partners into products and services.

Planet Labs, originally named Cosmogia Inc., was founded by physicists Robbie Schingler, William Marshall, and Chris Boshuizen, who previously worked at NASA. The company is backed by venture investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group, Founders Fund Angel, Data Collective, First Round Capital, and Innovation Endeavors.

Dove 2 satellite image

Imagery from Dove 2 satellite, April 2013 (Planet Labs )

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