Terra Bella: The New Name of Google’s Skybox

Terra Bella: The New Name of Google’s Skybox
Photo Credit: FranksValli via Compfight cc

Earlier this Tuesday, March 8, Google announced a change in their satellite subsidiary Skybox. It is renaming the start up as “Terra Bella.” The announcement, through a blog post, also said that the renaming of the subsidiary also comes with a new vision for the company.


Skybox founders Dan Berkenstock, John Fenwick and Ching-Yu Hu wrote in the post that although they are proud of having played an important role in developing satellite technologies, they have realized that the vision of the company extends “far beyond in the sky.”

The founders also said that as the search engine company revolutionized search for the online world, they in turn have “set their eyes on pioneering the search for patterns of change in the physical world. In order to focus firmly on the future, we’re pursuing that vision under a new name – Terra Bella.”

According to Tech Crunch, having access to Google’s other geospatial data sources and machine learning capabilities means that the start up will be able to provide services that go beyond making it raw imagery. What that would be is anyone’s guess. With the announcement in place, it just means that the public is in for more exciting news in the coming months.

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And though the newly renamed company is to go beyond what it usually does, Terra Bella will still continue to build its own space craft. The start up has even said that it is working on more than a dozen; how many exactly is not clear. But those will be launched in the coming years.

The Google subsidiary is founded in January 2009 and was acquired by Google June of 2014 for $500 million USD. Terra Bella, which was still called Skybox during that time, has already created small satellites that records landscapes in high detail and provided analytic services to businesses.

Reports speculated that the acquisition of the start up lies with Google’s interest in improving Google Maps and also its providing internet access to rural and remote areas initiative, Project Loon. Since its launching of its first satellite called SkySat-1, it has already managed to take 100,000 images, reports Venture Beat.

Currently, aside from satellite imagery, the company is also working on a broad array of machine learning capabilities, geospatial data sources and experts that was referred to as something that “could not have imagined as an independent start up company.” The goal here is to be able to convert the raw imagery into data that could help make more informed decisions.

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