Alphabet is Selling Its Terra Bella Imaging Unit to Planet Labs

A high-resolution satellite image of Istanbul captured on September 29, 2016 from one of Terra Bella’s SkySat devices. Terra Bella)

Google parent company Alphabet is backing away from another one of its peripheral and far-out missions, this time satellite imagery. The company is selling its imaging unit, called Terra Bella and formerly known as Skybox, to startup Planet Labs for an undisclosed sum, the two companies announced today.

Planet focuses on using satellite imagery to provide data for industries like ecological research, agriculture, and mapping. SkyBox did the same, and was acquired by Google back in 2014 for $500 million.

As part of the deal, Planet will acquire Terra Bella’s collection of seven SkySat satellites and also enter into a data-purchasing agreement whereby Google will pay for high-resolution imagery to use for its products and services. Planet is a leader in the satellite imagery space, with plans to send up the most ever satellites in a single launch later this month — 88 in total aboard a rocket launching from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. With the Terra Bella acquisition, Planet will also be taking on about 80 Alphabet employees, according to Bloomberg.

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SOURCE: The Verge, Nick Statt