A 'one-in-a-million' satellite image captured the exact moment of North Korea's latest missile launch

Kim Jong UnReuters
  • A satellite image captured by San Francisco-based research company Planet Labs reveals striking evidence of North Korea's latest missile launch. 
  • North Korea launched several projectiles on Saturday, its first confirmed missile test since November 2017. 
  • The image, one of the many taken by Planet Labs' satellites orbiting the Earth, revealed the exact moment and location of the launch.
  • Planet Labs Co-Founder and CEO Will Marshall posted the image online, saying that it was "one-in-a-million." 

A satellite image captured by San Francisco-based research company Planet Labs reveals striking photo evidence of North Korea's latest missile launch. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally ordered the launch of several rockets and missiles in an exercise on Saturday, state media reported, its first confirmed missile test since November 2017. State media said the purpose of the launch was to inspect the readiness of the country's defense units and weapons. 

The image, one of the many taken by Planet Labs' satellites orbiting the Earth, revealed the exact moment and location of the launch. Cofounder and CEO of Planet Labs Will Marshall posted the image online, saying that it was "one-in-a-million." 

"North Korean missile trail from space! Damn improbable; but if we take >million images/day, we'll get one-in-a-million shots!" he tweeted on Monday. 

Data on the image shows it was taken on Saturday at 10:54 a.m. Korean Standard Time. It shows a trail of smoke emerging from the launch point and extending over the sea. 

According to Space.com, the images were taken using Planet Labs' Dove cubesats, which are tiny satellites smaller than a loaf of bread that take stunning images with resolution of 10-16.5 feet. Planet Labs currently has over 100 such satelittes orbiting the Earth.

According to the company, its Dove satellites make up the world's "largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites" which take photos of the Earth daily. The company launches new satellites into orbit every few months. 

North Korea's latest launch featured several rocket launchers and an unidentified short-range ballistic missile, observers said.

Tensions between Kim and US President Donald Trump flared in 2017 over North Korea's provocative weapons testing. Trump sparred with the North Korean leader for months on Twitter, calling him "Little Rocket Man" and warning that his nuclear button was "bigger and more powerful.

Read more: TRUMP TO NORTH KOREA: My 'nuclear button' is bigger than yours

In March 2018, Kim agreed to refrain from missile testing as a show of good faith with the US president before their historic first meeting in June. The two met again in February this year, though it ended early as both sides were unable to reach an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. 

Trump responded to North Korea's latest missile test with restraint on Saturday, emphasizing in a tweet that he still stands with the Kim and remains hopeful that he will dismantle his nuclear arsenal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday told ABC's "This Week" that North Korea didn't break its moratorium to refrain from testing missiles, explaining that the weapons were "relatively short range" and none of the weapons crossed international boundaries. 

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