2020’s Most Newsworthy Events Captured by Planet’s Satellites
Core to our mission of making satellite imagery visible, accessible, and actionable, Planet continues to provide our data to news organizations, NGOs and first responders in an effort to promote transparency and provide the world with greater insight into global events as they unfold.
2020 saw no shortage of newsworthy events — from Covid-19 shutdowns, rogue icebergs, nuclear developments in Iran, and much more. As the year comes to a close, we’re taking a look from above at some of the most notable events that shaped this historic and difficult year.
Extensive damage can be seen in SkySat imagery captured of Al-Asad Air Base following an Iranian missile strike in early January.
Planet’s satellites provided a glimpse into life in global lockdown, as a result of Covid-19.
As demands for social justice reached new heights nationwide, satellite imagery clearly showed the bright yellow message on the street leading to the White House in Washington, D.C.
First responders and journalists turned to satellite images to better understand the massive explosion in August at Beirut’s port that was felt nearly 150 miles away.
Using Planet’s daily global satellite data maritime research firm, TankerTrackers, was able to catch four oil tankers that had manipulated their tracking data to hide covert visits to Iranian waters, where they collectively picked up millions of barrels of oil.
A bulk carrier ran aground off Mauritius, spilling 1,000 tonnes of oil and causing the country’s worst ecological disaster. A series of dramatic satellite images captured the vessel as the oil leak spread and the ship eventually broke apart due to strong currents.
Planet satellites captured a rare site in the South China Sea — a submarine entering an underground base on Hainan Island.
Due to limited access to information about Xinjiang, China, journalists at Buzzfeed News turned to satellite imagery to find and identify more than 260 structures built since 2017 that bear the hallmarks of fortified detention compounds.
One of astronomy’s most renowned telescopes will be decommissioned after sustaining catastrophic damage earlier this year after two cables supporting the structure broke suddenly.
SkySat captured a sliver of Iceberg A68a, which in total measures roughly 144 km (89 miles) in length. The berg broke away from Antarctica in 2017 and is now heading directly for the South Atlantic island of South Georgia.
Following a vow to rebuild a key Iranian nuclear facility underground after it was destroyed in July, the New York Times and Jeffrey Lewis from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, used Planet satellite imagery to identify the likely new location of the underground facility south of the Natanz nuclear site.
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