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California is ‘launching our own damn satellite’ to track pollution, with help from Planet

California plans to launch a satellite to monitor pollution in the state and contribute to climate science, Governor Jerry Brown announced today. The state is partnering with satellite imagery purveyor Planet to create a custom craft to “pinpoint – and stop – destructive emissions with unprecedented precision, on a scale that’s never been done before.” Governor Brown made the announcement in the closing remarks of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, echoing a pledge made two years ago to scientists at the American Geophysical Union’s 2016 meeting. “With science still under attack and the climate threat growing, we’re launching our own damn satellite,” Brown said today. Planet, which has launched hundreds of satellites in the last few years in order to provide near-real-time imagery of practically anywhere on Earth, will develop and operate the satellite. The plan is to equip it with sensors that can detect pollutants at their point sources, be they artificial or natural. That kind of direct observation enables direct action. Technical details of the satellite are to be announced as the project solidifies. We can probably expect something like a 6U CubeSat loaded with instruments focused on detecting certain gases and particulates. An orbit with the satellite passing across the whole state along its north/south axis seems most likely; a single craft sitting in one place probably wouldn’t offer adequate coverage. That said, multiple satellites are also a stated possibility. “These satellite technologies are part of a new era of environmental innovation that is supercharging our ability to solve problems,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “They won’t cut emissions by themselves, but they will make invisible pollution visible and generate the transparent, actionable, data we need to protect our health, our environment and our economies.” The EDF is launching its own satellite to that end ( MethaneSAT ), but will also be collaborating with California in the creation of a shared Climate Data Partnership to make sure the data from these platforms is widely accessible. More partners are expected to join up now that the endeavor is public, though none were named in the press release or in response to my questions on the topic to Planet

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Satellite startups turn to reinventing broadband, mapping and other industries

Jason Rowley Contributor Jason Rowley is a venture capital and technology reporter for Crunchbase News . More posts by this contributor Old VC firms hold entrenched position in fundraising despite fresh entrants The largest buys of tech’s Big Five: a look at M&A deals Smartphones have disrupted transportation, payments and communication. But the underlying technology has tangentially changed a completely different sector: satellites. The advances made in miniaturizing technologies that put a computer in your pocket — cameras, batteries, processors, radio antennas — have also made it easier and cheaper for entrepreneurs to launch matter into space. And investors are taking notice. The chart below shows worldwide venture and PE investment in satellite technology companies. Venture investment into satellite companies has been on a rocket-like trajectory since 2012, following a long fallow period. Although it isn’t pictured here, the last “major” satellite boom peaked in 2006, when there were five venture deals closed with satellite companies worldwide, according to our data set. Let’s take a look at some of the major players in the satellite sector. Below you can find a chart showing the most-funded private companies currently operating in the industry. We ranked them by total funding, which includes private equity rounds raised after traditional VC rounds (like seed, Series A, etc.). In general, these satellite companies are clustered around three different themes: broadband internet delivery, hardware development and satellite-enabled services. On the broadband front, we find a significant concentration of capital. It’s not just because internet connectivity is such a big market (it is), but it also takes a lot of capital to develop and deploy the satellites needed to build a viable service network. That’s part of the reason why  SoftBank  invested $1 billion in  a $1.2 billion private equity round  raised by  OneWeb  back in 2016

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