Artist rendering of a Pelican satellite from Planet

Artist rendering of a Pelican satellite from Planet PLANET

Satellite-Imaging Firm to Double Its High-Resolution Constellation

Planet’s new sats will allow more photos of global hot spots per day.

Space-based imagery from satellite companies like Planet has helped the international community prepare for and respond to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Planet on Thursday announced that they would launch 32  higher-resolution satellites in the first half of next year.

Dubbed “Pelican,” the next constellation will join Planet’s 21 SkySat satellites in orbit. The newcomers will enable the company to photograph various hot spots 12 to 30 times a day, depending on latitude, up from about 10 times today. (The company’s much larger Dove satellite constellation, by contrast, scans the entire Earth once a day.)

The new Pelicans will also have better resolution: about 30 centimeters per pixel, up from the SkySats’ 50cm. Planet will also have what they call real-time connectivity with the satellites, allowing retasking within seconds instead of hours. 

That means more and better data to feed to a growing group of analysts around the world who scrutinize space images to figure out what might happen next on Earth. The extra data will enable better machine learning, said Planet co-founder Robbie Schingler. More data and more timed data can help partners “drive models and analytics to then allow for better, more real time collective decision making across their enterprise,” Schingler said in an interview. “And a bit of difference between us and other high-resolution capabilities that are out there is that this is a commercial unclassified product. It allows for immediate shareability across collaborators and an enterprise or allies in nations. And so that's one of the key differentiators for Planet as a company is to be that commercial first organization.”