Pyongyang North Korea Wide boulevards and man-made canals encircle the unfinished Ryugyong Hotel (center-right), which casts a tall, triangular shadow over central Pyongyang. The hotel has been the face of several urban modernization projects since construction on the complex began in 1987. Today, work on the building’s interior and surrounding square continues.
Valley Fields China Humans can transform rural landscapes as profoundly as urban ones. In this rugged quarter of Sichuan, fields (primarily rice paddies) cover the valley floors, and all but the steepest slopes are terraced to make room for more crops.
Smallholder Farms Philippines Two million Filipino coconut farmers face 18 to 20 typhoons per year, and a cycle of indebtedness that prevents them from protecting their assets. Planet Labs has partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation to help build resilience for these and other vulnerable communities worldwide.
Moffett Field California, USA At the southern tip of San Francisco Bay, colorful shoreline sloughs border Google headquarters (left), NASA Ames Research Center (right), and Moffett Federal Airfield. These salt ponds, once owned and operated by Cargill Inc., are now part of California’s largest wetland restoration project.
Ngotwane River Botswana This meandering stream, the Ngotwane River, winds across Kalahari woodland near the border with South Africa.
Novel Ecosystems Brazil This landscape of fields and trees is a mosaic of two types of ecosystems. The croplands are used intensively by humans. The woodlands, however, are not under direct human control, but wouldn’t exist without the influence of the surrounding agriculture. Novel ecosystems like these comprise 40 percent of the land biosphere.
Ubatumirim Beach Brazil Copacabana may be famous, but the beaches that line Brazil’s Atlantic coast between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are equally beautiful, and far less crowded. Ubatumirim Beach, located in a cove 110 miles (180 kilometers) east of Rio, features calm water, hard-packed sand, and a handful of seaside campgrounds.
Chavimochic Special Project, Peru The Chavimochic irrigation project transformed Peru’s La Libertad region from a barren plain to commercial farmland. The massive hydro-engineering initiative brings water from the steep slopes of the western Andes to the arid expanse of Peru’s coast.
Wagerup Alumina Refinery, Australia The Wagerup Alumina Refinery is one of three Alcoa facilities that processes ore from Western Australia’s nearby Darling Range. The size of the refinery (image right) is dwarfed by the ever-expanding ponds (left) used for bauxite residue disposal.
Planet Labs, Inc. is an American private company that aims to create an Earth-imaging satellite network with open data access. Planet Labs was founded in 2010 as Cosmogia Inc. and is based in San Francisco. It successfully launched two demonstration CubeSats, Dove 1 and Dove 2, in April 2013. Dove 3 and Dove 4 were launched in November 2013.
In June 2013, it announced plans for Flock-1, a constellation of 28 Earth-observing satellites. Flock-1 satellites orbit at a height of about 249 miles (400 km) and provide imagery with a resolution of 3–5 m (9–15 feet) and envisaged environmental, humanitarian, and business applications. The Flock-1 CubeSats were brought to the International Space Station in January 2014 and successfully deployed via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer in mid-February. The company plans to launch a total of 131 satellites by mid-2015. In March of 2014 co-founder and CEO Will Marshall presented at the TED conference in Vancouver. In January 2015, the firm raised $95 million in funding.