Hi Reddit, I’m Will, a former NASA scientist with a PhD in quantum physics from Oxford and currently the Co-Founder and CEO of Planet (see video below). Planet operates 200 satellites that collect images of the entire Earth’s landmass every day (for the first time in history!) -- to help us take care of our planet.

I believe we are entering a space renaissance that will change how we see and measure our environment and understand our planet. Planet’s data is being used today in various ways that show just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended) for what will be possible tomorrow.

In short, I am excited to talk about building little spaceships to help us to take care of our favourite spaceship, the Earth :) As a space geek, I love the space community, and am looking forward to discussing everything from physics and satellites to ecosystems to aliens:)

Visit me on Twitter @Will4Planet & @planet.

Proof: https://twitter.com/Will4Planet/status/1448318262660374529

Check out this video to learn more about Planet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDftStOPevM

Comments: 397 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

gargarav588154 karma

Curious to ask as to why vendors do not display the price for satellite imagery? Would it not instil trust amongst clients and bring in pool of new customers?

Will4Planet96 karma

Unfortunately pricing isn’t as simple as $x/image. There’s puts and takes on everything from what’s the resolution, how old is the image, what are the license terms e.g. are we releasing it publicly for free (ie, world events or natural disasters), does the user need access to additional tools and analytics, and so on. We’re constantly working to make this more efficient and hopefully one day the industry will go in that direction!

boones_farmer70 karma

As more and more businesses colonize space, what regulations do you support to make sure that the night sky continues to belong to all of humanity and doesn't simply become a lawless playground for businesses looking to push whatever agenda they please on humanity?

Will4Planet90 karma

I am generally quite pro the development of more space law. It's a very nascent field with really only 5 treaties - whereas law for the land, sea or air are vast.

Things I support are:

- debris regulation that prevents the cascading issues of space debris. Just like the earth's climate, the sooner we nip this in the bud the better. Much has already been done in this area but more still. The main thing here is that we need to ban kinetic anti-satellite weapons (ASATs) which generate huge debris fields and countries (like US, China and India have all recently done), do to show each other that they can blind the other. This is just dumb. Secondly we need to have redundant propulsion systems on any mega constellations that fly at higher orbits e.g. >600km.

- we need to start working on space resource rights -- countries (e.g. China, US) and companies (e.g. SpaceX, Blue Origin) are going to the moon and many want to make claims. Right now the law says no one can appropriate land on other celestial bodies (or put military bases on them), but doesnt really speak to anything further, including what happens if you mine some resources, are they yours? And when you land, can you be protected from others landing on you or what? All this needs to be worked out. Ideally before there's a conflict

- to your night sky point, I do feel the number and brightness of satellites (esp Starlink now) is effecting the night sky, not just for astronomers, who are definitely already pissed off, but also everyone -- and it effects how we see the universe. Should kids grow up and just see thousands of satellites overhead as well as the stars, or is it their right to see the natural night sky? So I feel like something is needed here. (btw I know this was discussed at the last UN COPUOS meeting -- the body that deals with space law.)

awaken_curiosity51 karma

Is there are day coming when buying/subscribing to Planet imagery and services will be open to the small business and individual consultant? (Last time I enquired the minimum purchase was $10k USD.)

Will4Planet43 karma

firstly you can start a free trial now, but it is limited in volume and time. Secondly, our focus is on larger enterprises. However, we do have a lot of researchers and other smaller users using it today -- generally its when their institutions buy and give access to them. So, for example,. NASA recently purchased data access for all civil government scientists in the US + all NSF funded researchers (~280,000 people) -- so for them its free at the point of access.

In time we envision the type of access you speak to here, its mainly just not our prime focus today. And we're working towards the tech to make it easy enough to use for this group -- a central goal of planet is to democratise access (many of the users we serve today could not have used satellite data before Planet).

scibusspatial14 karma

I second this... While large institutions are great, there's a LOT of work going on with smaller institutions/organizations (municipal, private, etc.) that could really benefit from lower minimum cost pieces/packages. Some decent platforms out there to consider if looking at providing a self-serve automated pipeline for smaller cost pieces.

FairlyUnkempt14 karma

Even large institutions, I work for a decent sized company. We did a pilot that was a good bit over the minimum order. It was a pilot to determine the larger company-wide use cases for our org. On the basemap side, wow. It was great. We saved a BUNCH of drive time for our field staff. On the SkySat side it was like pulling teeth to get images because we were told we were "a small account" with no recognition that we were looking to go 10X on order size if they could actually perform.
Great tech, way oversold by sales. When capacity goes up, I think they will change the way many industries function.

Will4Planet13 karma

Again, agreed. PEr other response, we more than doubled capacity in the last year and will continue to push here. As well as on customer experience.

Will4Planet3 karma

we agree!

dallasuptowner42 karma

Are there any plans for a consumer version that would give the average consumer some features that wouldn't cut into your commercial business? E.G. longer delays in images, lower resolution, etc.

I would really like to play with it, even be willing to pay, but I'm not doing journalistic sat-recon or crop planning, etc.

Will4Planet-16 karma

See response to earlier question :)

CaptainTuraunor33 karma

Could your satellites leverage the Starlink network or other downlinks methodologies in the future to provide a constant live stream from space?

Will4Planet41 karma

maybe ;)

doublesmothers31 karma

Have you guys considered branching into the satellite bus industry as a satellite provider as you get experience with your little sats? If there’s any market I’d want my “21st century space startup” to be, it wouldn’t be a launch company, it’d be some form of a satellite thing.

Will4Planet81 karma

yes and concluded no. Whilst we have expertise there, that's not our goal: our goal is to help the planet with better data. And, from a business perspective, it's not a good business.

Let me elaborate briefly. In some senses, Planet’s is three companies in one: a space company, a data company and a software company. But really one should think of planet as a data company -- we don’t sell satellites or SW, we sell data. And that’s important b/c data businesses are very scalable -- we can sell each image multiple times and the incremental cost is very low -- so we get to high margins. (whereas rocket/satellite services companies cannot/its much harder).
To think of planet as a data company would be like thinking of Google as a server company. Yes they are good at servers, but that’s not their business -- they are a search business. Our satellites similarly are our back end. Now I would argue they are much harder (and sexier) but still back end :)

touristtam27 karma

What are the plans for when the currently deployed satellites are becoming junk?

Will4Planet43 karma

Space debris is super important-- and I personally care a lot to the point (spent 2 years of research on the problem at NASA!).

In short, Planet keeps its satellites at lower altitudes to avoid creating debris: By staying out of high traffic altitudes and ensuring timely deorbiting, Planet does not contribute to long term space debris.

More broadly, the humanity/the space community has to do something about the existing debris, and I think the best approach is something we came up with at NASA called LightForce https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20120016689

Will4Planet20 karma

Thanks so much peoples. I'm clocking off now. Will try to monitor and hop in later.

Ad Astra

GTCapone15 karma

Is your company in any way funded by or associated with the NSA, CIA, or US Military?

Will4Planet30 karma

We do have a commercial partnership (not funding/investment) with NRO to leverage our data for intelligence for the US Gov.

I think this is a good thing. Let me step back. The majority of revenue of almost all large space company is government (inc. SpaceX btw!). Unusually then, Planet’s revenue is majority commercial. This is because Planet’s data is best suited for monitoring and identifying large-scale change: urban development, agriculture, forestry etc. But our data, especially the daily scan of the earth, is valuable for intelligence agencies: it uncovers new threats (most other assets -- governmental or private -- are tasked only to look at where they know to look).

The reason I think this is good is that the more people knowing about what's going on around the world the better. You see we have a core policy relevant here of non exclusivity: we never give our data to one gov and not to others actors. (No other player does this btw). So if we sell it to a gov we can also sell it to their neighbour. We can (and do) also provide it to the NYTimes or NGOs or the UN. And generally in history, more people knowing about something leads to more peace and less conflict. in uncertainty, people presume the worst and conflict happens. For example, during the Cold War it was when the US had not seen Russians put missiles in Cuba that we almost went hot. So more people knowing is generally better.

beforeitcloy4 karma

Hate this response. If the goal is to provide the planet with more transparency to prevent conflict, rather than to be a surveillance state profiteer, then you should provide all data you give to the NRO to world news outlets free of charge.

Will4Planet26 karma

We basically do. We provide open access to accredited journalists -- whatever they ask for we give: Planet receives and gives data to thousands of such enquiries.

DimensionalQuake1 karma

If this is not a violation of an individual's privacy yet, it will be in the future. However, it's going to happen anyway, but at the same time it's still awful.

Will4Planet16 karma

Just to be clear, we cannot see or identify a person from space (the satellites are 400km up), so this is muted, whereas the positive use cases -- of helping to take care of the earth -- are vast.

deepakvasisht13 karma

Hi Will, what do you think are the next big technical/research problems in Planet's (and in general Earth observation) trajectory? I am a researcher, so looking for your views on the big problems that science/research can help you solve.

Will4Planet26 karma

Big tech challenges at Planet are mainly things around what we call 'going up the stack' -- more analytics enabling users to get answers rather than images. For example, we do ML to extract roads, buildings, ships, planes etc from our imagery today. Then someone can just, say, circle the worlds top ports and get how many ships per day per port, rather than have to look at all the images.

On the satellite side, we're focussed on two new satellite fleets: our 'Pelican', next generation high res (that follow on and upgrade our 21 Skysats) and 'Carbon Mapper', our first fleet of hyperspectral satellites (that will be able to monitor methane/CO2 emissions, biodiversity etc).

Generally in EO, I think the biggest research problems are in application on AI. Like almost all domains, AI is changing the game, and EO is no different -- in fact it's a prime area because theres been huge advances in computer vision that can be leveraged to massive value extraction from the imagery -- doing things we could not do before, especially at scale.

dallasuptowner13 karma

Is there anything that would be interesting to the general public that your images have captured but you are not willing or allowed to share?

Will4Planet37 karma

No. We've found many things we've captured that some people might not *like* that we shared, but none that we're unwilling to.

We are shedding light the world over. To give just one example, last year in an amazing piece of journalism that was recognized with the Pulitzer prize, Planet imagery was used to expose about 200 Uighur detention camps in western China: https://www.planet.com/pulse/pulitzer-prize-journalists-satellite-imagery-chinese-internment-camps/

Dreambiginspace202111 karma

What’s an industry you’d like to see your data being utilised in that its currently not yet and why?

Will4Planet19 karma

Two come ti mind:

Finance: our data has huge value here, from tracking commodities to helping track ESG targets of companies. We're developing anlaytics to produced derived information to get to that value ...

Insurance: we help a lot with disaster response e.g. flooding, wildfires. Insurance companies checking on claims from these send people out -- should just check our imagery, it'll be cheaper, more efficient, scalable (and safer!).

Aqua_Terra10 karma

Where do you see the largest room for growth for your company and/or this industry you're pioneering?

Will4Planet29 karma

I think there's an enormous green field opportunity being opened up by the space renaissance. And the upshot is *not* what you've seen in the news: it's not about rockets, satellites, billionaires and space tourism, its all about the data and the earth.

To your specific question, our main industries are in agriculture, forestry, government, mapping... all of which depend on our daily scan data, which is unique to Planet today.

But let me step back and set this in context: there are two key disruptions that have happened in the last 5-10 years in space:
1. Rockets have decreased in price 4x. This is mainly due to the development of reusable rockets, and it’s primarily driven by SpaceX. (Also a proliferation of nano-launch)
2. Satellites have increased in cost performance by 1,000x. This is mainly due to Moore’s law: as chips and hard drives get better satellites can do more with the same space in the rocket fairing.

Take that last point in for a sec: few industries see a 1,000x kind of disruption in a 5-10 year period. This is akin to the mainframe to desktop revolution in computing. (Some have suggest it’s like the Model-T Ford moment for space, except that led only to a ~2-3x cost reduction; so perhaps this analogy works for the launch piece but not for the satellite piece!) And like that, it will unleash many more uses, users and capabilities.

But what's often missed is that the key upshot is this: satellites are producing and transporting vastly more data. The number of satellites has increased 2x (though half of satellites operating come from just 2 companies, SpaceX and Planet) but the capabilities have 10x).

--> Again, it's not about the rockets or the satellites, its about the data, the economy on earth and taking care of the planet!

deepakvasisht9 karma

Hi Will, thanks for doing the AMA. What's the current latency in getting an image from satellite to the cloud? Is that latency solely from satellite-ground station connectivity or some of it comes from the terrestrial network?

Will4Planet16 karma

it's a few hours -- and yes limited mainly by Ground stations -- we have 48 around the planet, but any one satellite is not in view of a GS at all times.

SameSection98939 karma

Big believer in the space industry and really excited that you are doing an AMA here! What would you say differentiates Planet from similar comps such as MAXR/Black Sky? As a follow up to that I'm mainly curious how Planets 2.5bil valuation makes sense in comparison to the other companies market caps which are much lower. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Will4Planet17 karma

Look, competition is good so I very much welcome it (see my answer on the space renaissance, there's a huge green field here!).

We do have a significant lead, however, at least in some core metrics. For example we have 200 satellites (whereas those two have 4 and 8 respectively): with these we scan the whole earth land mass every day, actually about 300 million sq km/day, so 2x earth landmass -- that's about 100x more area/day than *any other company*.

Two points often missed when people look at Planet and other EO companies is that 1. Most of Planet's markets are only possible via the scan. You can’t serve agriculture, for example, without the scan b/c agricultural lands are 25% of the earth landmass and those companies only imager 1-2% of the land/day. Same for forestry, maritime, disaster response etc etc. 2. We are 1:many model: we sell each image many times, everyone else is tasked. The cost to deliver an image a second or third time is very little indeed -- this greatly improves gross margins.

We also have now a huge stack -- now over 1,700 images for each place on earth -- which is what we use to train our ML models. Which no one else has.

Because of this, I generally don't see these companies as competition -- they mainly serve other markets and use cases/are complementary.

SpaceStockInvestor9 karma

What made you decide to go public via SPAC $DMYQ rather than a traditional IPO in time? Thanks!

Will4Planet14 karma

The most important thing is that Planet was ready to go public -- we have a full and complete fleet of 200 satellites, a mature business with over $100m in revenue etc -- this was the right time. The second consideration was how (SPAC, IPO, DPO etc) and we chose SPAC because its quick and efficient and there was lots of capital there. We found great partners in $DMYQ to do this -- they saw the full value of Planet as a data business, and our huge potential in sustainability/ESG.

Historical_Internet28 karma

What are your thoughts on methane release detection from space? What are the incentives and mechanisms for monitoring harmful gases and accountability on the ground.

Will4Planet12 karma

great q. To your latter point first: you can't manage what you don't measure. Today no one really knows where *most* of the methane is coming from.

That's why, and to your first q, are part of Carbon Mapper, a coalition with partners at NASA-JPL and California Air Resources Board which are developing a fleet of satellites to measure methane and CO2 point source emitters down to the facility scale (30m). critically this has the sensitivity to see 90% of the sources of methane (which is mainly things like oil/gas facilities, waste dumps and, yes, cows). We know this because the instrument we are flying, which is built by JPL, already did an airborne campaign over California and found down to the smallest sources. We used this to determine the specs for our satellite fleet.

toolsforconviviality7 karma

What do you think of The Galileo Project? Harvard-based initiative led by Prof Avi Loeb, the aims of which are to search for extraterrestrial technological signatures: 1. In Earth's lower atmosphere 2. In Earth orbit 3. In our solar system

And, would you be open to using any of your satellites (if fit for purpose) to look for such signatures? (in relation to 1).

Will4Planet9 karma

See response to the question on UFOs but yes I know the project and Avi. IF theres' something we could do to actually help that practically, happy to take a look :)

nakaninano7 karma

What are you most looking forward to for your company ‘s future?

Will4Planet13 karma

The big picture is using space to help life on earth. So the next question is what can we as space geeks do to best serve this? Our thrusts are in (1) getting the best satellite data of the earth, i.e. better and betters satellites and, moreover, (2) building tools to make it easier to use because earth imagery has generally needed teams of people with PhD's in remote sensing and we want it to be easier -- to democratise access per previous question.

All this is in service of more timely information to help people make smarter decisions to take care of spaceship earth, and 7 billion of us astronauts and its beautiful ecosystems aboard.

rezusx6 karma

Hi and thank you for this AMA. Does Planet aim to enter the growing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) market with its own satellite? Thank you

Will4Planet10 karma

I think SAR is a great capability, At our user conference a few weeks back we just announced adding SAR (from Sentinel 1) to our Fusion line. Take a gander: bit.ly/3vBsl4i

nitonitonii6 karma

How does Climate Change looks from up there?

Will4Planet25 karma

OK, this is a personal passion. It's not pretty. We've seriously messed up the planet.

But before I go further, let me say something important: we should be focussed on ecocide or environment more broadly, not just climate. The main issue is the massive destruction to earths ecosystems -- we've wiped out about 70% of all life on Earth in the last 40 years. Yes, no kidding -- take that in!

And for that what we see is all those ecosystems being destroyed:

- we see the massive deforestation, mainly turning forests mainly into land for agriculture (mainly for cattle btw -- so one of the most important things you can do that stop eating beef)

- we see coral reefs and that we're lost about half of them and

- to climate, we see the disasters getting more frequent and large

PS I go into this issue (and link to the key reports) here: https://medium.com/@will12000/climate-is-missing-the-point-we-have-an-ecosystem-emergency-211b1a348fd & solutions more here: https://medium.com/@will12000/weve-changed-to-stop-covid-19-now-let-s-change-to-preserve-wildlife-c82635678f9f

BottledH2O5 karma

Do you think a Black Hole has a shadow? Or depth?

Will4Planet13 karma

well it shields light from objects the other side, so I'd say yes. But for this you need an AMA with my old supervisor, Roger Penrose -- he worked a lot on black holes and in fact won the Nobel prize in physics last year for his work in this area!

LemonsAreGoodForYou5 karma

Hi Will, first thanks for the AMA! I have a couple of questions

  1. How much data do you capture per day? I can imagine it can be ridiculously large! do you have your own data centers?
  2. As a telecom engineer degree with a Msc in cognitive sciences that worked in a bunch of industries as backend, frontend, IoT engineer, and the last years as a UX designer, how could I fit in Planet? I have a passion for the space but never saw an opportunity where my "eclectic background" could fit. I would love to transition to space industry but as a father of 2 I lack the time and money to retrain myself to a more demanded role (ie: Machine Learning)

Any advice on how could I set my feet in?

Will4Planet8 karma

Hey Lemons,

  1. Per day we collect about 300million square kilometers in area (that's about 2x the earths land mass), and >25TB per day,
  2. There's loads of places with your kind of BG.We of course have a lot of radio work, we have lots of backend and UX pieces -- pls check out planet.com/careers

My advice: do something that meaningfully helps the world (not Facebook, for example).

Uday_krv5 karma

When will Planet start giving under 1m base maps?

Will4Planet6 karma

stay tuned. hard but not impossible

socalguitar4 karma

Hi Will,

Have you ever conducted any analysis if Space Solar Power (for Earthbound distribution) could pencil out?

Disclosure: Your company Planet was featured in my book, Space Is Open for Business: The Industry That Can Transform Humanity

Will4Planet8 karma

yes, have looked in detail and generally this idea never penciled out -- not by several orders of magnitude ! (it is and was lower cost to keep on the ground). *However*, with decreasing launch costs there is a point where it makes sense -- when the extra time in sunlight (24/7 rather than say 8-12 hours per day) and the maintenence costs cancel the launch costs -- I calculate that to be around a few hundred$/kg launch costs. [fun fact: The dominant costs of solar power on the ground are maintenance costs]

AstroSusie4 karma

Hi Will! What does it take to work at planet?

Will4Planet14 karma

what we look for is:

- passion for the mission and our values

- smarts (in a relevant area)

- collaborative spirit/team work

I find if people have these three, the rest fall into place :)

Welcome to look at our jobs at planet.com/careers/

flatipus4 karma

thanks a lot for this ama. do you have any plans in the future to open source data and imagery, and eventually upload it on some decentralised storage platform? i believe if more people have access to this super valuable data, it will contribute to level the scientific playing field while gather more brains around fundamental issues, some of which may be local and not of interest to those who buy access...

Will4Planet10 karma

We open source lots of data. For example a few links below. Generally, tho, we can;t just open source all the data: that's how we make money, without which we could not launch the satellites to have the data! In terms of science -- we make our data available to large numbers of education and research institutions; see my answer above with the NASA example which gives access to hundreds of thousands of people that way.

Here are some examples of open source data projects, these are where we've made a partnerhsip to produce what we call 'digital public goods':

  1. California forest observatory -- which is helping fires both with the real time support to firefighters, and to help find and remove sources of future mega fires as preventitive workd: https://www.planet.com/pulse/cfo-mapping-new-standard-wildfire/
  2. NICFI: this is a project to track deforesation in 64 nations across the tropics where all the torpical rainforests are:
  3. Allen Coral Atlas: just completed a few weeks ago the first ever map (and classification of) all the worlds reef corals - it was a project funded by Paul Allen just before he passed away, and is a fitting legacy:

-null4 karma

Have you ran into limitations around the resolution or areas you’re able to image due to government interference? I’d imagine there are certain areas you can’t take high resolution imaging of and probably a global ceiling on the resolution you’re allowed.

Will4Planet7 karma

yes: physics limits our resolution. We're 400km up and the diffraction limit is in effect! No one's invented a way around.

no: we're allowed to image anywhere without restriction. No resolution limit.

[There are limits on who we can provide imagery to,. e.g. embargoed by US or EU, like sanctioned countries or organisations]

FairlyUnkempt3 karma

When will SkySat capacity meet the Planet Sales Team's promised timeline for delivery? We did a pilot last year, and never received any tasked order in under two months even though we were promised 48 hour turnaround times by sales.
Planetscope basemaps are a game changer though. If we didn't get so burned on SkySat, we would have gone all in on monthly basemaps.

Will4Planet12 karma

Thanks for the feedback, we care a lot about that user experience.

SkySat is getting better every day and it’s a huge focus for our team to create a better experience for our customers. In the last year we more than doubled the capacity and halved the latency. We introduced Order Lock In to ensure we set expectations with customers on what we can deliver within a given time - like 48 hours you mention. We also added cloud forecast so that people can decide if they want to take a picture based on that.

Glad you found so much value in Basemaps, it's obviously Planet's most unique offering.
If you’re willing, we’d love to get it right with you re: SkySat and other ways we can help you do your work. Please feel free to send me a DM here or on Twitter and we’ll connect you with someone who can help.

c-f-k-n-tha-boyz3 karma

How did you go from quantum physics research to nasa scientist? The only industry applications for quantum physics I know about are like how to prevent electron tunneling in smaller feature silicon devices. Or computing but we're still a ways off. Is there a specific reason nasa wanted quantum physicists?

(I'm a physics grad too)

Will4Planet11 karma

cool, stick with it :)

I was always interested in theoretical physics and space -- decided to do my PhD in quantum more due to the former -- but at NASA was doing broadly space science/planetary science as well as space engineering.

There are loads of applications of quantum -- cryptography, computing etc. But I'd suggest you follow your interests more than the application when you're studying, b/c you have to do stuff you're into -- =when you come to select a job physics is very versatile and I think you can move to almost anything, And at that juncture, you should care a lot about the application -- in particular you should try to do something that will concretely help the planet.

kefuhai3 karma

Hi u/Will4Planet!

Previous intern at Planet here from way back in the Summer of 2017 on the optical team. Just wanted to say thank you for creating something unique, and giving the opportunities for those just growing in the space to come along and join. I'd like to think my short time at Planet has given my early career the butterfly effect, and for that I'm forever grateful.

As for my question, it's about how much has Planet changed over the years. I recall during the 2017-2018 period Planet reached "sufficient" daily coverage of the Earth with their doves and small fleet of skysat's, and the next challenge was pivoting to take advantage of that data. Recently I saw a post from Planet talking about Pelican and SAR, which is very exciting.

So back to an actual question, how do you manage the pendulum swinging between hardware and software focus with in the company?

Will4Planet3 karma

Great to hear from a previous Planeteer! :) Glad you had a good time with us and thanks for your work!
We do do both SW and HW. One of our investors says ‘all the best SW companies build their own HW’ and gives examples of Apple, Tesla and Planet. I like this argument because it's true that to really build great SW you want to design and control the HW as well.
We need to keep pushing on both. Our bigger focus right now is on the SW side of the house since we’ve a mature satellite fleet -- 200 in orbit -- and there’s huge value in the data to extract. We're going as fast as we can on that.

kessler693 karma

So excited by all the amazing work going on at Planet! Would you ever follow in the footsteps of your friend Chris Boshuizen and take a trip to space?

Will4Planet5 karma

Haha! Yes, Chris just went to space! Very cool. I've been chatting to him a fair bit about what it felt like and the experience....

But as for me, it's not a big goal but I'd love to if I can, tho I'd prefer when there's been a few more test runs :) Also I'm pretty bloody busy with Planet right now :)

alwaysbored223 karma

Hi sir,

I am very impressed by your career and your fascinating company. In your description, you have listed finance as a commercial application of the satellites, could you elaborate on this? I don’t really see the relation that the one could have with the other.

Will4Planet4 karma

Sure. Finance is not a top market for us today, but it can be in the future. Broadly finance needs data to make decisions. Whether it’s about climate change, commodities, or ESG investing (including monitoring emissions with our upcoming hyperspectral satellites), the finance industry will absolutely benefit from a daily data. For example, take ESG tracking, all companies need to meet their ESG targets else soon they'll not be able to access capital -- see Larry Fink's statements on this -- and the E in ESG is environment -- which means their use of resources, their supply chains, their physical asset risk etc. And to report on this they have to measure them. That's where Planet comes in. For example we have one company that generates paper but wants to check that the wood is sourced from a sustainable forest. We can do that for them.

Broadly, the global economy has to shift to take into account natural capital (trees, water, emissions etc etc) as something of value (or as they would say an asset class), and Planet has a baseline on that with it;s daily scan, we track that natural capital.

billoriellydabest3 karma

Will there be a need for an open source cubesat OS? Kind of like ROS in robotics that forms a framework in building modular software components? Or does it only make sense for cubesats to be bespoke currently (cost, parts sourcing)?

Will4Planet7 karma

perhaps. firstly, we use Ubuntu for our main CPU! There are things that could be better for the space application, esp making them real time. But right now there's so few constellations (right now half the satellites are from just two companies, Planet & SpaceX), and they are performing such specific things, most SW is bespoke.

ohheyisayokay3 karma

With all the bajillions of satellites being put into space, and the ever-growing cloud of space junk already around our planet, how do you plan to go about doing what you're doing without creating more of a mess and altering the night sky, as people are complaining that Starlink will do?

Will4Planet2 karma

see response to other debris qustions and link to the paper!

To the altering the night sky question: unlike starlink satellites, ours are not visible to the naked eye.

7H3_H0RN372 karma

Will humankind be exploring space and colonizing other planets within the next couple decades?

Will4Planet3 karma

I do think that they will be landing humans on the Moon and creating a base there, which is really cool. But what I’m really excited about is those explorations helping us learn more about protecting life here on earth --- any scientific exploration into life, geology, and physics off earth could help us understand more here too. I think that protecting our ecosystems here is the most important thing we could possibly be doing with space tech.

chucksutherland2 karma

1) What bands of light are you collecting? I saw NDVI, which suggests you are getting IR data also. Do you have hyperspectral capabilities?

2) Are you competing with ESRI or do you consider them a partner?

3) Are you hiring?

Will4Planet5 karma

  1. We have 8 bands on our superDove spacecraft, ranging from Near Infrared (NIR) across optical. See this deck esp. slide 14 here: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1382&context=calcon In we're also currently building Carbon Mapper which is a fleet of hyperspectral satellites with over 400 spectral bands!
  2. No. We provide data and are a dta business (we sell data), they provide software and are a software business (sell SW)
  3. Yes! A ton! planet.com/careers

yanxigong2 karma

When will we see the data from CarbonMapper and any dates on when we can buy shares of PL?

Will4Planet4 karma

For CarbonMapper, we’ll be launching the fully capable hyperspectral tech demos in 2023. We’re really excited to share the data -- this fleet is hyperspectral and has use cases in detecting methane emissions, biodiversity, and much more.

Planet will become publicly traded when our SPAC transaction closes, which we expect to happen later this year. dMY Technology Group Inc IV, the SPAC helping us go public, is already publicly traded (NYSE: DMYQ (which will become PL to your point)).

subdep2 karma

Do you anticipate using fleets of autonomous drones to collect data as well, to compliment your satellite base?

I ask because what happens if there is a space war and your satellites are either deliberately targeted or become collateral damage by the inevitable debris fields?

Your company would become non-functional, right?

Will4Planet5 karma

No. And I don't think that's a hugely likely scenario-- because satellites are the eyes and ears of countries it is well understood that if you take out someone else's satellite, that's going to be full blown war. Which is why it's never happened. Meanwhile what's far more likely is people taking out drones cos they are in their airspace (satellites are not).

jtooker2 karma

How does this project affect an individual's privacy? Especially at the 0.5m resolution video?

Will4Planet3 karma

no see other question.

Carl_The_Sagan2 karma

Are you sure that your technology won’t just create more space debris and make it more difficult for astronomers to see from earth without artifacts?

Will4Planet7 karma

no, we keep our satellites really low so that they don't create any long term debris issues

IameAuhSomme2 karma

Hello Dr. Marshall! I’m a first year doctoral student hoping to do research in lunar illumination modeling and water ice detection via remote sensing. I have a few questions, if you don’t mind:

  1. do you think Planet might ever expand to smallsat remote sensing of bodies other than Earth, such as the Moon?
  2. have you considered moving Planet into non-optical remote sensing? I’ve heard Spire is doing some really cool stuff with their smallsat constellation by measuring GNSS radio occultation to determine atmospheric properties - does Planet have the infrastructure to compete in this field, or is it like comparing apples to oranges?

Will4Planet4 karma

There’s a reason our name is Planet, not Earth ;)

We already do non optical remote sensing in that we have a Near Infrared (NIR) band, But generally you’re right. We want to expand but I don’t think things like Spire is doing -- that's cool but not our focus.

IdiotTranslator1 karma

This is a great idea, wishing you lots of success.

Question: Under the right circumstances, might you be convinced into using some of your technologies time to help solve the mystery of UAPs / UFOs?

Will4Planet11 karma

LOL, I think we did look to see if in our data we could help clear up one of the USAF 'sightings' recently. But generally I don't find this particularly mysterious. We've lots of things we can't explain, but UFOs are very very unlikely to be aliens.... they are millions of years ahead of us, traveling across the galaxy to meet us , they are not going to make a mistake. If they wanna say hi, we'll know for sure; if they wanna stay quiet, they will.

What *is* fascinating to me is that I think there's a good chance we'll find life off-earth soon. In fact I'd bet within the next 10 years. This is because we've now got a next gen telescopes coming online (JWST, ESOs 30m one etc) and these should be able to tell compositions of planetary atmospheres around exoplanets. If we looked at earth from 100LY away we'd see ~20% oxygen and we know Oxygen likes to grab onto everything (oxidising Iron etc). What keeps it up in these concentrations on Earth is life. And we don't really know any other non life (volcanic etc) mechanism to do so. So we'd guess there's life. We've thousands of planets to look at now and do this -- I bet at least one has an atmosphere that we go 'that's very likely life there'. Now we won't know whether it's bacteria or iET, but we'll have a good bet on finding a second genesis which has huge implications for life in the universe, philosophy, religion etc.

TalkingBackAgain1 karma

How is this program making money and who is paying you?

What are your prospects for the next decade from the perspective of revenue generation?

If we ever build a base on the Moon would you go there if you had the chance?

Will4Planet8 karma

Our customers buy our data, and use it to make smarter decisions, for example:
- agricultural companies like Corteva use our data to improve crop yields
- governments use our data for border security and disaster response
- scientists and NGOs use our data to help protect forests, coral reefs and other biodiverse regions.
And you may use it in ways you didn’t realise b/c
- mapping companies like Google use it to update their digital maps
- news organisations use it to shed light on world events often showing the imagery, and
- if, unfortunately, you’re effected by a disaster (fire, flood) our data may be being used to help relief efforts.

On Q 2: since this is now a matter of public record as we go public, I can tell you this: Planet did just over $100m last year and are forecasting just over 40% growth year on year for the next 5 years.

On Q3: I'll make a prediction here: humanity will have a permanent base on the moon within 10 years! It'll be privately led b/c key advances are now happening in the commercial sector. And yes, now that's something I'd love to do! Especially to see the Earth above you -- ~4x wider than the moon or the sun in our sky. Would be amazing!