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Posted on September 1st, 2020

Our Changing Landscape – Painting of Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C.

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of 4 and 5-band 3-meter imagery daily! Last month we exposed what appeared to be illegal dumping at a nickel mine in Russia’s Siberian region, and for our John Lewis memorial edition of Our Changing Landscape we travel to Washington D.C. to check out the painting of Black Lives Matter Plaza (BLM Plaza) in June.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C. on June 1, June 6 and July 27, 2020. In this animation, you can see an unpainted street in the June 1st image and then some evidence of it being painted in the June 6th image – admittedly it is not super visible. But in the July 27, 2020 image, which was the day of John Richard Lewis’ memorial in D.C., the bright yellow paint (okay it looks more orange here) is visible for us all to see – perhaps as Mother Nature’s tribute to the fallen Civil Rights hero. You will be missed but never forgotten Congressman Lewis. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2020)

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 150 microsats referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery; and newly launched SuperDoves collect 5-band multispectral adding in valuable red-edge spectral data. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

The Painting of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Plaza in Washington D.C.

It is not the point of this short article to retell the story of the Black Lives Matter movement nor the surge in protests we saw following the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd (and so many before him and her), rather we are here to recount the story of one small part of one day in the broader Civil Rights movement that John Richard Lewis helped define. On June 5, 2020, following days of unrest and protest in Washington D.C., including the widely reported on incident in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church where protesters were cleared with excessive force, Mayor Muriel Bowser authorized the symbolic transformation of a two-block stretch of 16th Street into BLM Plaza. On this day, local artists and public work crews worked together to paint a two-block long homage to Black Lives Matter in bright, bold yellow paint. At the end of the text, right in front of St. John’s Church and within eyesight of the White House, a yellow D.C. flag was painted to remind the Trump administration of the injustice inflicted on the peaceful protestors just two days before here. A few days later, on June 7th, the iconic Civil Rights leader, John Lewis, was photographed in BLM Plaza which appear to be the last known public photos of him. Now it is time to turn to another visual tribute to Congressman Lewis with our 3-meter PlanetScope animation from Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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