PlanetLabs scientist Robert Simmon, a former NASA scientist, has extensively described a series of such images in a medium post. It offers views of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mont Fitz Roy, Houston Texas, Bilbao Spain and Shanghai. The pictures are a joy and bring the cities and regions to life in a way that is impossible with regular satellite photos.
Planet Labs uses constellations of CubeSat's miniature satellites called Doves, which are launched as secondary payloads on missile missions. They shoot every day on the entire Earth to an optical resolution of about 3 to 5 meters (1
The satellites can do a cute trick that others can not do by scanning the ground at an angle to show altitude and altitude. "An irony of the space age is that the earth looks flat when you look down, but looking from the page …" Simmon wrote on Twitter.
If you see the side images compared to normal, flat satellite images, the differences are striking. For example, Simmon showed the view of Mount Fitz Roy, both directly from above and from the side (above). "You might not appreciate that these are mountains if you do not see the clue in the jagged shadow of the jagged peaks of the mountain," he said.
The second picture (right) changes everything. "If you look at a picture of Monte Fitz Roy from a certain angle, the view will be completely different," Simmon said. "The mountains are rising to their commanding heights, the valleys are gaining depth, and the background features are disappearing into the distance, as if looking out the window of a 450-kilometer-tall airplane."