The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle carried 88 satellites from Planet Labs into space. The rocket took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in South India. The satellites will be used by Planet Labs to image the Earth.
The rocket that carried the satellites is designated PSLV-C37. It carried a total of 104 satellites. 103 satellites weighed 663 kg, and one satellite weighed 714 kg (Cartosat-2 series satellite). They are orbiting 505 km in space in a polar-sun synchronous orbit. This type of orbit ensures that the satellite passes over the same location on Earth at the same local time each day.
96 nano-satellites were from the U.S. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) sent two nano-satellites. They weigh less than 10 kg and carry up to 5 kg. A remote tracking company called Spire sent 8 satellites.
Planet Labs has the second largest network of ground stations in the world. They also have an automated mission control system. The data collected by Planet Labs is accessible to customers, governments, researchers, and NGOs.
Planet Labs agreed to buy Google’s Terra Bella division, which includes the SkySat constellation of satellites. In return, Google has agreed to purchase Earth-imaging data from Planet Labs. Some of the applications include:
- Monitoring natural resources
- Measuring agricultural yields
- Aiding first responders after natural disasters