API Mechanics

last updated: June 03, 2024


The Planet API uses Basic HTTP Authentication and requires that you have a Planet API key. Currently, anyone can sign up for a free account on our main website. The free account gives you access to imagery from anywhere in the world at 3-5 m/px resolution.

Once you're signed up, you can find your API key in your account settings. Authenticate by setting username to your API key.

**Authentication Via Basic HTTP with Python

import os
# import os module to access enviornmental modules

import requests

# pass in your API key

PLANET_API_KEY = os.getenv('PL_API_KEY')
# Setup the API Key from the `PL_API_KEY` environment variable

BASE_URL = "https://api.planet.com/tasking/v2/orders"

session = requests.Session()
#setup a session

session.auth = (PLANET_API_KEY, "")
#authenticate session with user name and password, pass in an empty string for the password

res = session.get(BASE_URL)
#make a get request to the Data API

# test response

# print response body

Authentication Via cURL

  curl -u {api-key}: https://api.planet.com/tasking/v2/orders

Rate Limiting

To improve the experience for all of our users, Planet uses rate limiting to prevent overloading the system. If handled correctly, rate limiting errors can be a normal and useful part of working with the API.

When a rate limit has been exceeded, the Planet API responds with an HTTP 429 response code. When this occurs, we recommend implementing retry with an exponential backoff. An exponential backoff means that you wait for exponentially longer intervals between each retry of a single failing request.

The following rate limits are currently in place:

  • Activation endpoint - 5 requests per second, per API key.
  • Download endpoint - 5 requests per second, per API key.
  • Compute operation endpoints - 5 requests per second, per API key.
  • Other endpoints - 10 requests per second, per API key.

Maximum Payload Size

When sending a POST request to the Planet API, the server will accept a maximum payload size of 1 megabyte.


Whenever an error occurs, whether it be the fault of the user or an internal system, an error object will be returned.

HTTP response codes of 4xx suggest a bad request. If you receive a 4xx response, we recommend reviewing the API reference docs for more context to help you troubleshoot. 5xx errors suggest a problem on Planet's end, so if you receive a 5xx error, please contact support.

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