A Year in Pictures: Capturing 2022’s Interconnected World

In 2022, we observed how interconnected our world really is, from the international games that brought us together to the seismic activity that spanned our oceans. We saw that war is felt globally and that climate change has impacted every region on Earth. For Planet, this year was marked by our goal to bring transparency to the world. Our data shined a light on critical global events, enabled investigative research, and mapped the impacts of environmental change.

We believe you need to see change to make a change — whether it is to support sustainability or peace on our highly interconnected planet. So, here are just some of the critical events our satellites revealed in 2022.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Eruption

Shock waves were felt across the Pacific as January 2022 began. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted over a series of days, causing tsunami waves to radiate on either side of Tonga, reaching Japan on the west and Peru on the east. By January 18th, the volcanic island had nearly fully submerged underneath the ocean.

SkySat image of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano captured on January 7, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano captured on January 15, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano captured on January 18, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Snowfall in Athens Greece

A rare snow storm swept across Athens, Greece, marking the second year in a row that the city received unusually snowy weather. In response to the event, Athens declared a public holiday and deployed authorities to help citizens stranded on motorways.

SkySat image of Athens, Greece covered in snow captured on January 26, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Beijing Winter Olympics

In February, Beijing hosted their first Winter Olympics. Once again, athletes from around the world competed in the famous Bird Cage stadium, originally built for the Beijing 2008 Summer Games. However, this time around, Olympians also took to the mountainous slopes in Zhangjiakou, China for skiing, snowboarding, and lounging.

SkySat image of Bird Cage stadium in Beijing, China captured on January 28, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China captured on January 26, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Russia Invades Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, beginning what is now the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War which has impacted the world at large. Throughout the day, Russia bombed Ukrainian airbases, including the Chuhuiv Airbase in Kharkiv.

SkySat image of Chuhuiv Airbase in Kharkiv, Ukraine captured on February 24, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Queensland, Australia Flooding

In March, unprecedented flooding in Queensland, Australia drenched croplands and turned residential areas into rivers. This flooding caused thousands of Australians to evacuate their homes and elevated national conversations around the impacts of climate change.

PlanetScope imagery of Queensland, Australia captured on February 18, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
PlanetScope imagery of Queensland, Australia following unprecedented flooding captured on March 1, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Artemis 1 Rocket

For the first time in 50 years, a NASA moon rocket was brought to the Kennedy Space Center launch pad when Artemis 1 arrived in mid-March of 2022. The rocket made its actual successful journey to space on November 16, 2022 and returned to our atmosphere on December 11, 2022.

SkySat image of Artemis 1 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad captured on March 18, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Attack on Russian-held Kherson Airbase

The Russo-Ukrainian War continued with counter attacks from Ukraine in March. Following the occupation of the Kherson Airbase by Russian forces, Ukraine attacked the site, damaging and destroying Russian helicopters.

SkySat image of attacked Kherson Airbase captured on March 15, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Extremely Large Telescope

Aptly named, the Extremely Large Telescope began reconstruction after a Covid-19 pause in April and May of 2022. The construction took place on the Cerro Armazones, a mountaintop in the Chilean Atacama Desert. The site was specifically chosen due to its high altitude and dry air which is ideal for astronomical observations. When completed, this will be the largest telescope ever created.

SkySat image of the construction of the Extremely Large Telescope captured on February 1, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of the construction of the Extremely Large Telescope captured on April 28, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Ukrainian Grain

In June, analysts began to investigate the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian War on the region, which has been known as the “World’s Breadbasket.” Imagery revealed Russian attacks on Ukraine’s grain ports, including bombed grain silos in Nika Tera port in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. Throughout the year, global supply chains for grain have averted their usual routes with stolen shipments being allegedly sold illegally by Russia.

SkySat image of grain silos at Nika-Tera Port in Mykolaiv, Ukraine captured on May 31, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of destroyed grain silos at Nika-Tera Port in Mykolaiv, Ukraine captured on June 7, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Summer Wildfires in Europe

As Europe was enveloped in a sweltering summer heat, wildfires erupted across the continent. Popular beach vacation spot, La Test de Buch, France caught fire next to its charming coastal dunes, while the Salamanca Cáceres Provinces in Spain were left with significant burn scars following scorning flames.

SkySat image of fires in La Test de Buch, France captured on July 13, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of the fire in Salamanca Cáceres Provinces in Spain captured on July 14, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Drought in Germany

The July heat also left Europe in severe drought. Notably, Germany’s drought depleted the country’s Rhine River levels to as low as 40 cm in some regions, causing severe supply chain slowdowns. The parched land also impacted farmers across the country whose crop yields dropped. The difference in vegetation between July 2021 and July 2022 was stark and could be seen from space from Planet’s monthly Basemaps.

Planet July 2021 monthly Basemap for Germany. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
Planet July 2022 monthly Basemap for Germany. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Windmill Assembly

In July, a Planet satellite captured these windmills laid out for assembly on the open prairies of Oklahoma. In 2021, 41% of Oklahoma’s in-state electricity generation was derived from wind power, making it the largest electric energy source in the state. In 2022, Oklahoma’s 998-megawatt Traverse Wind Project became North America’s single largest wind farm built at one time. Oklahoma ranks as the third highest U.S. state in wind energy production, following Texas and Idaho.

SkySat image of windmills laid out for assembly in Oklahoma in the United States of America captured on January 28, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Floods Across Pakistan

In September, devastating floods submerged regions of Pakistan, causing the deaths of over 1,500 people and displacing over half a million individuals. The floods were caused by record monsoon rains and glacier melt exacerbated by climate change.

SkySat image of flooding in Nowshera, Pakistan captured on August 29, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
PlanetScope image of Kabul River in Pakistan captured on August 17, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
PlanetScope image of flooding Kabul River in Pakistan captured on August 28, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
PlanetScope image of Hala, Pakistan captured on August 2, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
PlanetScope image of flooding in Hala, Pakistan captured on August 28, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

NASA Harvest Captures Food Security Data in Ukraine

As fall harvest season began, analysts sought to better understand global food security in the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian War. NASA’s food security research program, NASA Harvest, used Planet data to conduct in-depth research on the state of crop yields in Ukrainian-occupied and Russian-occupied territories. Their research revealed that despite the war, crops were continuing to be harvested on both sides of the frontlines.

PlanetScope data used by NASA Harvest to observe crop yields in Ukraine in 2022. Image courtesy of NASA Harvest.
PlanetScope data analyzed by NASA Harvest to observe crop yields in Ukraine in 2022. Image courtesy of NASA Harvest.
NASA Harvest graphic of Ukraine crop yields generated from Planet data. Image courtesy of NASA Harvest.

Nord Stream Pipeline Explosion

In late September, underwater explosions burst open the Nord Stream Pipeline located in the Baltic Sea. This line transferred natural gas from Russia to Germany. After the rupture, the pipeline began releasing methane gas which surfaced as large bubbles at the top of the sea. The event is suspected to be sabotage, but the culprits have not been identified.

SkySat image of methane bubbles coming from the Nord Stream Pipeline in the Baltic Sea captured on September 26, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Hurricane Ian

As hurricane season began in the southern United States, Florida experienced their deadliest hurricane since 1935. Landing as a Category 4, Hurricane Ian caused devastation across the state, claimed 146 lives, and caused approximately $50 billion in losses. The storm completely destroyed the Sanibel Causeway, the bridge system connecting Sanibel Island to mainland Florida.

SkySat image of Sanibel Causeway, captured on July 4, 2021. © 2021, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of Sanibel Causeway, captured on September 30, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Landslide in Venezuela

In October, heavy rains saturated mountains in Venezuela, causing rivers to burst their banks. Following these outpours, a landslide in Las Tejerias, Venezuela leveled hundreds of homes.

SkySat image of Las Tejerias, Venezuela captured on October 11, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

FIFA World Cup 2022

In November, the FIFA World Cup grabbed the attention of viewers from around the world, both as fans began rooting for their teams and as the media covered the controversies surrounding this year’s Qatar-based games. Planet’s satellite images captured several of the stadiums in Qatar as well as the construction of the of the Lusail Stadium from 2020 to 2022.

SkySat image of Lusail Stadium in Qatar captured on November 3, 2020. © 2020, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of Lusail Stadium in Qatar captured on October 20, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar captured on September 7, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of the 974 Stadium in Qatar captured on October 24, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Volcanic Eruption

Coming full circle in the Pacific, we ended the year with more momentous volcanic activity. In December, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, the largest active volcano in the world, erupted for the first time since 1984, drawing curious onlookers from around the globe to Hawaii.

PlanetScope image of eruption of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawai’i captured December 1, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of the Observatory Road lava flows from Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii captured on December 3, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
SkySat image of the Mauna Loa volcano fissure in Hawaii captured on December 7, 2022. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.

Planet is dedicated to helping researchers and journalists investigate and respond to important issues, and our tools are designed to do just that. Email press@planet.com to learn how you can include satellite data to tell visual and compelling stories.

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