Two years ago Google spent $500 million to acquire Skybox Imaging, a satellite-imaging startup company. At the time, the main focus was to help Google’s Maps product stay up-to-date with fresh satellite imagery. The companies also suggested Skybox may be able to play a key role in disaster relief efforts as well as with some of Google’s Internet access initiatives. In an announcement today, the company announced they were changing their name to Terra Bella and they have plans to expand on their initial mission.
Terra Bella’s founders Dan Berkenstock, John Fenwick and Ching-Yu Hu note that they
“have realized that our vision extends far beyond boxes in the sky. As Google revolutionized search for the online world, we have set our eyes on pioneering the search for patterns of change in the physical world.”
Part of that change in focus comes from recognizing that there is more to geospatial information than just satellite imagery. The company also recognizes their data and efforts can be applied to areas like economic, societal and humanitarian challenges outside of mere imagery used for Google Maps. However, no details are given as to how Terra Bella may translate this realization into actual products or services.
What is clear is that the company plans to continue their efforts to launch new satellites. Terra Bella indicates they have more than a dozen satellites in development with launches scheduled over the next few years. These will join their initial satellite, SkySat-1, that was launched a couple years ago.