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Satellite Photo Shows Aftermath of Drone Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities

This photo, taken by a Planet Dove satellite, shows a vast plume of smoke from oil processing facilities in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia after a drone strike claimed by Yemeni Houthi rebels.

(Image credit: Planet Labs Inc.)

A small Earth-watching satellite has spotted a vast smoke plume from Saudi Arabian oil-processing facilities after a drone attack on Saturday (Sept. 14). 

The commercial Earth-imaging company Planet used one of its small Dove satellites to capture a striking view of the attack's aftermath from orbit as the oil facilities burned.

"Smoke billows from Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia after drone strikes set fire to the major oil facilities," Planet representatives wrote in a Twitter statement accompanying the photo. "Captured by a Planet Dove satellite today, September 14, 2019." 

Related: Planet Labs Photos of Earth from Space (Gallery)

Each Dove satellite is the size of a loaf of bread and can snap photos at a resolution of 10 feet to 16.5 feet (3 to 5 meters). 

Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack, which hit at least 17 Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, according to the New York Times. The U.S. government, however, maintains that Iran forces played a role in the strike. Iran backs the Houthi rebels in Yemen's ongoing civil war.

Planet (formerly Planet Labs) is a commercial Earth-observation company that captures high-resolution photos of Earth from space using a network of small Dove CubeSat satellites, as well as larger SkySat satellites.

The company recently used one of its SkySat satellites to spot the aftermath of a rocket failure at Iran's Imam Khomeini Space Center last month. Planet has about 140 satellites in orbit watching the Earth right now.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook.

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