System Characterization Report on Planet’s SuperDove

Open-File Report 2021-1030-F
By: , and 


Executive Summary

This report addresses system characterization of Planet’s SuperDove and is part of a series of system characterization reports produced and delivered by the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science Cal/Val Center of Excellence. These reports present and detail the methodology and procedures for characterization; present technical and operational information about the specific sensing system being evaluated; and provide a summary of test measurements, data retention practices, data analysis results, and conclusions.

Since 2013, Planet has launched more than 360 Dove 3U CubeSats, where U stands for 10-centimeter (cm) x 10-cm x 10-cm stowed dimensions, each weighing about 5.8 kilograms. Since 2015, all Dove satellites have had four-band imagers with about a 3-meter (m) pixel ground sample distance. Since 2016, all Doves have been launched into Sun-synchronous orbits varying from 474 to 524 kilometers, with inclinations between 97 and 98 degrees. The Dove series satellites do not have orbit maintenance capabilities; thus, their orbits decay slowly over time, contributing to shorter lifetimes of about 3 years. More information on Planet satellites and sensors is available in the “2020 Joint Agency Commercial Imagery Evaluation—Remote Sensing Satellite Compendium” and from the manufacturer at

The Earth Resources Observation and Science Cal/Val Center of Excellence system characterization team completed data analyses to characterize the geometric (interior and exterior), radiometric, and spatial performances. Results of these analyses indicate that SuperDove has a band-to-band geometric performance in the range of −1.701 m (−0.567 pixel) to 1.173 m (0.391 pixel) in easting and −4.950 m (−1.650 pixels) to 6.051 m (2.017 pixels) in northing, an image-to-image geometric performance of −1.17 m (−0.39 pixel) to 23.45 m (7.82 pixels) in easting and −10.61 m (−3.54 pixels) to −4.43 m (−1.48 pixels) in northing offset in comparison to Sentinel-2, a radiometric performance in the range of −0.043 to 0.020 in offset and 0.812 to 1.246 in slope, and a spatial performance in the range of 3.59 to 3.70 pixels for full width at half maximum, with a modulation transfer function at a Nyquist frequency in the range of 0.005 to 0.008.

Suggested Citation

Kim, M., Park, S., Anderson, C., and Stensaas, G.L., 2022, System characterization report on Planet’s SuperDove, chap. F of Ramaseri Chandra, S.N., comp., System characterization of Earth observation sensors: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1030, 19 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • System Description
  • Procedures
  • Measurements
  • Analysis
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • Selected References
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title System characterization report on Planet’s SuperDove
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2021-1030
Chapter F
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211030F
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description iv, 19 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details