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Planet Labs buys Alphabet’s satellite division Terra Bella, signs contract for Earth imaging data


Last month a report surfaced suggesting that Alphabet was looking to sell off its satellite division, Terra Bella. Google purchased the company — formerly known as Skybox Imaging — back in 2014 for roughly $500 million. Now, in a statement on their website, Planet Labs has announced that it will be purchasing Terra Bella from Google…

Terra Bella manufactures mini-fridge-sized satellites that are used to capture high-quality images of Earth. They build these with off-the-shelf electronics to help keep costs low. Terra Bella’s photographs are used to create up-to-date satellite imagery to monitor natural disasters and global warming as well as provide data for Google Maps and Earth.

Planet Labs is thrilled to announce that we have entered into an agreement with Google, wherein Planet will acquire the Terra Bella business including the SkySat constellation of satellites, and Google upon closing, will enter into a multi-year contract to purchase Earth-imaging data from Planet.

With the purchase of Terra Bella, Planet Labs will be bringing over “a number” of employees from Alphabet. Those joining Planet will continue their work on the satellite projects going forward while other employees will most likely be reassigned to other projects within Google.

Additionally, Google has signed a multi-year contract with Planet Labs in order to purchase Earth-imaging data. This data will most likely be used to update Google’s offerings that rely on updated satellite imagery.

Planet Labs did not disclose how much they will pay for the satellite company, but the deal should be finalized shortly. The last step is for the company to gain receipt of regulatory approval in the US.

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Avatar for Justin Duino Justin Duino

I’m a writer for 9to5Google with a background in IT and Android development. Follow me on Twitter to read my ramblings about tech and email me at Tips are always welcome.