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Planet Labs Satellite Imagery

This guide explains how members of Brown can request access to Planet Satellite Imagery


The library has a subscription to the Planet Lab's Satellite Imagery, a database that includes PlanetScope daily 4-band imagery at 3 meter resolution from 2014 to present (8-band from 2020), and RapidEye daily 4-band 5 meter resolution imagery (2009-2020). Imagery can be accessed and downloaded via a web browser, desktop GIS plugin, and API. Our subscription is limited to a specific number of named user licenses. Certain members of Brown can request an account to be used for research purposes.

Planet Explorer

Request an Account

You can request a named Planet user account for scholarly research purposes: ongoing academic research, a dissertation, or a thesis. Accounts will not be issued for teaching purposes, coursework, or one-time class projects (see Alternate Sources at the bottom of this guide for free alternatives). You must be a current Brown student or employee that falls within one of these categories:

  • Faculty or postdoc
  • Research staff
  • Graduate student
  • Undergraduate writing a thesis
  • Undergraduate research assistant for a project that requires this data

Requests will be processed within 1 to 3 business days during the fall and spring semesters. Processing time may take longer in winter and summer.

If you are not eligible for an account, you can make arrangements to visit GeoData@SciLi to access and download imagery on a one-time basis.

License and Use Restrictions

Download and usage limits:

  • Our license has maximum campus-wide limits on the amount of material that can be accessed in one year:
    • 30 million sq km of imagery / scenes for download
    • 150 million sq km  basemap tiles for download
  • Despite these large sizes, if users inadvertently or purposefully make repeated, large requests, this could easily exhaust our quota. For perspective, the surface area of the Earth is 510 million sq km.
  • Under no circumstances should any user download quantities of data that would significantly deplete or exceed our allocation.
  • Download just what you need. If you do need to submit a large extract, do a test run on a smaller extract first to ensure that it works as planned. Use the drawing tools in PlanetExplorer or functions in the API to clip imagery to just your area of interest.
  • When writing scripts, separate the download process from any data processing or analysis that you're doing; don't run the download process repeatedly.


  • Planet Satellite data is copyrighted and licensed for academic, non-commercial use by current members of Brown University.
  • Redistributing or republishing the original datasets, or significant derivatives of the datasets, is strictly prohibited.
  • To cite Planet data in publications, please include the following copyright notice:

    • "Image © 20xx Planet Labs PBC" (where xx denotes the year of the content used)

Account Renewals

  • Accounts will be reviewed each year, prior to the beginning of the fall semester. Users who do not respond to renewal messages may have their account suspended.
  • Accounts may be cancelled for the following reasons: graduating or ending employment at the university, not appearing in the university directory, long periods of account inactivity.

Using Planet Apps and Services

Planet provides different options for accessing data. The links below lead to documentation that describes how to use each service. Once you have an account, you can access services from your account menu.

Planet Account Menu

Planet Imagery Datasets

Imagery: individual scenes that cover a small geographic area at a specific point in time

Basemaps: multiple scenes that have been processed and stitched together to depict a large, cohesive surface

Planet Imagery Providence Apr 2023

PlanetScope 3m RGB image at optimal resolution, downtown Providence and East Side, Apr 25, 2023. Image © 2023 Planet Labs PBC.

Please note: Brown's subscription does not include SkySat 50 cm resolution archived imagery or tasking.

Docs and Tutorials

Alternate Sources

The imagery for Planet Labs is intended for users who need daily, high-resolution satellite imagery for finite portions of the earth, for research purposes. If you need basemaps for the entire planet, imagery for teaching purposes or class projects, don't require resolution below 30 meters, or you don't qualify for a Planet account, try these free alternatives.