Creon Levit, Director R&D, Planet Labs, provides an interesting overview of the advanced satellites that are being launched to help us better understand and monitor our planet.
Levit is a seasoned scientific expert. As an award-winning research scientist of the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley for 33 years, he was a leader and manager of many advanced projects that combined new techniques in scientific computing, machine learning, and complex graphics, to find solutions for crucial NASA problems.
Levit discusses his background and his current mission at Planet Labs, where they build, launch, and operate the world’s largest constellation of satellites to make changes on Earth more visible and actionable. As he states, Planet Labs has launched over 300 satellites to date, though approximately only half of those are still in orbit currently. Many that were simply launched for testing have now re-entered the atmosphere and burned up.
Levit explains their high-resolution satellites, discussing what they image and how they gather data. The research scientist talks about medium resolution satellites that image the Earth in visible, and near-infrared colors. He explains their resolution and quality level. Levit discusses their data set in regard to climate change, and he expounds upon their data that many environmental researchers access to further studies in multiple areas, such as climate, ice flow, species diversity, land use, and much more.
The Planet Labs scientific expert provides an overview of some, particularly interesting use cases. He describes one specific use of their daily data that delivers valuable information to ranchers, informing them about the optimum stage of grass development for ruminate animals to graze. By utilizing this data, ranchers can manage grass health and animal health simultaneously.
Additionally, Levit talks about the value of infrared and the many amazing things it can help researchers learn and differentiate. He explains spectral bands and elaborates on the detection of gases, specifically the tracking of environmentally-relevant gases.