Back in 2014 Google’s parent company, Alphabet, bought Skybox Imaging for a reported $500 million (€473.5m). It renamed the enterprise Terra Bella. Bloomberg is reporting that the business is now up for sale.
Terra Bella, based in Mountain View, California, specialises in extremely high-resolution Earth observation images. Founded in 2009, the business uses 1080p satellite video from the high-performance SkySat (Satellite Imaging Corp) craft which orbit just 450 kms up in polar orbits above the Earth.
Bloomberg says that a leading contender to acquire Terra Bella is Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based company that operates a constellation of small Earth imaging cubesats. A deal to sell Terra Bella to Planet could include Google taking an equity stake in Planet.
Terra Bella has been developing a fleet of so-called ‘smallsats’ that take higher resolution images than Planet’s cubesats, but less frequently. Terra Bella has seven satellites in orbit, including four launched on a Vega rocket last September.
In June 2014 when Google made the purchase it said part of the rationale was improving its own ‘Google Maps’ application.