We’re happy to facilitate tasking requests for customers in the Plus and Enterprise plans. 

This article provides an overview for the process of tasking with Upstream Tech.  We’re always here to answer any questions you or your team have along the way - you can reach out at lens@upstream.tech anytime.

What is tasking?

Tasking is the process of commissioning a remote data provider to capture imagery at a designated time and place. It can be an ideal option if you need to ensure that imagery is captured for your property at a certain spatial resolution within a tight timeline. 
Lens users have access to a range of satellite and aerial imagery providers to maximize the frequency and availability of imagery. But, tasking provides a guarantee that your property will receive imagery within a specific time frame. Though tasking comes with a higher price tag than ordering through Lens, it may be the best way to meet your monitoring needs. It’s also important to note that, unlike imagery ordered through Lens, tasking comes with minimum capture areas and costs to meet for each order. 
The decision of whether and when to task is contingent on each organization’s imagery needs, flexibility in budget, staff time, and reporting deadlines. Another important consideration is reporting deadlines. If your organization is working within specific deadlines to complete monitoring or other activities that require imagery, it may be necessary to task imagery if other data sources or field visits are not possible.

Tasking Considerations


In most cases, earlier planning gets you the best price, and highest likelihood for capture. We recommend reaching out 4-6 weeks in advance of when you need imagery. As soon as your imagery is captured, we’ll reach out to share the raw data files with you, and will also upload your tasked truecolor imagery to Lens. You also can set up a recurring task, if you’d like to get data every quarter, for example. 

Tasking Tradeoffs and Minimums

There are different vendors you can opt to use for tasking. There are tradeoffs between vendors and it's important to consider multiple factors: spatial resolution, budget, turnaround time, and quality or clarity of imagery. Overall, Planet offers more flexibility in regards to cost and order size while Airbus has less flexibility but consistently delivers images with excellent quality (ex: consistent color correction, crisp images). Below the minimum capture and corresponding minimum order cost are outlined for different vendors and imaging options:

  • Airbus Neo
    • Spatial resolution: 30 cm
    • Minimum capture requirement: 100 km2 (~250,000 acres) per continuous area
    • Minimum cost: $2,800 minimum order
  • Airbus Pleiades
    • Spatial resolution: 50 cm
    • Minimum capture requirement: 100 km2 (~250,000 acres) per continuous area
    • Minimum cost: $1,800 minimum order
  • Planet SkySat
    • Spatial resolution: 50 cm
    • Minimum capture requirement: 25 km2 (~6,200 acres) per continuous area
    • Minimum cost: $500 minimum order

Additional Considerations

Multiple Scenes: If your task is large enough to span multiple captures, each separate capture will be delivered as a scene in Lens and as a separate GeoTIFF. If you load the GeoTIFFs into a GIS software like ArcMap or QGIS, the GeoTIFFs will line up well for visual inspection. However, if you want the files together as one layer you will be responsible for merging or mosaicing the GeoTIFFs together. 

Cloud Cover and Satellite AnglesCloud cover minimums will default to <30% and satellite elevation angles (the angle between the ground and the line pointing to the satellite) will default to 60-90 degrees.

Recurring capturesIf you are interested in receiving recurring imagery for your property we can work with you to set up a tasking series - just let us know!

Snow: If you are interested in snow-free imagery, please let us know. While we are able to try to recapture the image if the first attempt has snow, we suggest planning ahead to avoid the snowy season to increase your chances of imagery without snow cover.

Shadows: Shadows are a result of not only satellite angle, but also sun angle. This is particularly relevant for areas of high latitude at particular times of the year when the sun is lower in the sky. For instance, imaging areas in the northern US and Canada in the winter will likely result in shadowy images.

Steps to initiate a tasking request

  1. Your first step will be to determine which of your properties need tasking. You can do this in Lens by tagging these properties with a “Needs Tasking” tag. Generally, it’s best to task a cluster of properties when possible to meet the minimum capture requirements.
  2. Once your properties are tagged, send us an email at lens@upstream.tech to ask for a quote, and let us know your timeline and what tasking provider(s) you’re interested in.
  3. In most cases, we will need to buffer around your properties to reach the minimum area requirements from vendors (example shown below). We have a tasking optimizer tool we will run your properties through to draw optimized tasking shapes for the relevant vendor. After running the tool, we should be able to share a tentative quote to give you a ballpark sense of price. 
  4. If everything looks good, we’ll move ahead and formalize a quote with the relevant vendor for your requested time period. Once this is confirmed we will provide you with an official order form and final price.
  5. The data provider will capture imagery for your properties within the specified window.
  6. As soon as it’s available we’ll pass the data along to you. Raw imagery files will be shared via a Google Cloud storage bucket where you can retrieve zipped files of your data (usually GeoTIFFs), and we’ll also upload truecolor imagery to your Lens account.
  7. Once data is delivered, we will send you an invoice for the agreed amount.

An example of properties, shown in green, with the gray tasking area drawn around them to meet the minimum tasking area.

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