Good morning, especially to the 111 of you who have joined us in the last week.
We’re happy to inform you that Mercury is no longer in retrograde. Let loose, everybody.
In today’s newsletter:
🛰️ 100 days of war
📚 Weekend recs
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Satellite Imagery Illuminates 100 Days of War in Ukraine
Tomorrow marks 100 days since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
Over the course of the last few months, satellite imagery has served as the world’s window into the destruction and tolls of war, providing vital intelligence that the Ukrainian and allied governments and humanitarian groups have used to defend the country and ease human suffering.
Planet’s Snapshots newsletter chronicled the information we’ve gained from satellite imagery over the past few months. In a Q&A with open-source researcher Wim Zwijnenburg, interspersed with Planet satellite shots, the newsletter goes into the great power—and great responsibility—that comes with wielding satellite imagery for military intelligence:
“In the wider debate, OSINT analysts should be careful on what they publish, in particular around the privacy of civilian victims, as this can be misused or hard to remove once it’s online,” said Zwijnenburg. “Also, they have a responsibility to be really thorough in their publications, as information spreads fast.”
For Payload’s part…We’ve been closely following the role that OSINT via satellite imagery has played in the war so far. In the beginning, the Ukrainian government’s need for commercial satellite imagery quickly became apparent, and the commercial EO sector quickly rose to the challenge, agreeing to freely provide Ukraine with imagery.
Since then, numerous companies have begun initiatives to make it easier for Ukraine and allies to access this imagery, spanning from user-friendly data portals to a fundraising campaign to help Ukraine operate its own EO constellation.
The upshot: This is the first major conflict where public satellite imagery has played a vital intelligence role. The ability to see directly into the war zone has cut through the fog of war to counter false claims about what’s really happening on the ground.
In Other News
- NASA ordered five additional Crew Dragon rides to the ISS, after buying Crew-7, -8, and -9 from SpaceX in February.
- Russia launched an ISS resupply mission aboard Soyuz. The cargo is on its way to the station now.
- Elon Musk told SpaceX employees in an all-hands memo that WFH is not an option.
- Sony is getting into the satellite laser communications game.
🗑️ Debris, Part II. Check out the second installment of our in-depth series on orbital debris, where we look at what the federal government has done to protect LEO (and where it’s dropping the ball). Read the story here.
📝 Space trash op-ed. Payload reader Justin Kurth published an op-ed for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress on finding diplomatic solutions for debris, which clearly is Payload’s trending topic of the week.
🌏 Planetary defense. Andrew Jones of the Planetary Society surveys China’s various planetary defense initiatives, from asteroid deflection to detection to new Near-Earth object-tracking.
📱 Last…but not least. Our favorite tweet from the last week:
Did you hear about the time NASA charged a fine to a billionaire who brought his pet cat up to the ISS and it made a mess?
It was a cat-astro-fee.
The View from Space
The VIIRS imager aboard NOAA-20 captured Hurricane Agatha poised to make landfall near Puerto Escondido, Mexico on May 30. The Category 2 storm, with max winds of 105 mph, was the strongest to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast in May of any year since modern records began in 1949.