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November 2013 

Pléiades: towards a new radiometric model of the Moon?

Thanks to its total lack of atmosphere and the perfect stability of its surface and thus optical properties, the Moon constitutes an ideal calibration site for Earth observation missions for which the radiometric quality of the data is crucial. In the framework of the PLEIADES 1A and PLEIADES 1B in-flight calibration, studies took place in order to determine the calibration precision that could be reached from the acquisitions realized during the different lunar cycles. The POLO data set (Pléiades Orbital Lunar Observations) was born: over 1000 images of the Moons acquired over 6 months for viewing angles varying from -115° to +115° (0° corresponding to the full Moon, 180°, to the new Moon).

The Moon seen by Pléiades
The Moon seen by Pléiades

The short term objective is now to use this POLO data set to improve the ROLO lunar model (Robotic Lunar Observatory), developped by USGS (United States Geological Survey) which is internationally accepted and used by every space agency for the calibration of satellite which are able to aim at the Moon. This new model should then be available to the international community through our participation to the GSICS (Global Space-based Inter-Calibration System).

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December 11, 2012 

First images taken by Pléiades-1B Pléiades 1B

Pléiades 1B observation satellite from CNES, French space agency, has just delivered its first images after being sent in orbit on December 2, 2012 by a Soyuz launcher, from the Guiana Space Center.

Developed under CNES responsibility, Pléiades is a dual Earth observation system at very high resolution, meeting the needs of civil and Defense users.
This system is composed of a constellation of two identical satellites, Pléiades 1A and 1B, built by Astrium, on the same orbit to guaranty a daily revisit capability all over the world. Pléiades satellites supply images at 70 cm resolution, resampled at 50 cm. They give an ideal detail level for mapping the most dense urban areas as well as for precision applications (crisis areas monitoring, mining or petrol exploration, marine monitoring, agriculture...). Their unequalled agility, enabling to minimise the programing conflicts, and their multiple acquisition modes (stereo, mosaics, corridor, etc.) make this constellation particularly reactive to the users specific requirements.
The images acquired by the two Pléiades satellites are collected by users centers, in Torrejon (Spain) and Creil (France) for Spanish and French armies, and in Toulouse by Astrium Services, which is the exclusive distributor for civil users.

LORIENT - France - Credits: CNES 2012
LORIENT - France - Credits: CNES 2012
Beware the image is in full resolution
and can take some time to load

Other Pléiades 1B images can be seen in the "Gallery".

December 2nd, 2012 

Successful launch of Pléiades-1B.

After a one-day delay of the launch for "red on the launcher", Soyuz sent in orbit Pléiades 1B satellite on December 2nd. The operations on the satellite are nominal: the solar pannels are deployed, the attitude is stabilized, the thermal and power balance is reached. After the configuration set up of the required equipments for the normal mode and a few calibration operations, the first image is expected on wednesday December 5th

Successfull launch for Soyuz, on 2 December 2012 by CNES

December 1st, 2012 

This December 1st, Pléiades-1B will join its twin, in orbit since one year at 694 km altitude. The Soyuz launcher should liftoff from the Guiana Space Center at 02h02:51 UTC.

Agility, reactivity of the ground segment, revisit in one day: the Pléiades system, developed by CNES, is a new generation of "usefull" satellite images of the Earth with a resolution of 70 cm. The 2nd satellite of the system should be sent in orbit on December 1st with a Soyuz launcher from the Guiana Space Center. It will join Pléiades 1A in space since one year, at 694 km altitude, and which supplies stricking images of the world.

The second satellite will bring a daily revisit for all point on the Earth and multiply by two the acquisition capabilities. Thus, when the Pléiades system will be completed, it will be able to cover up to 400,000 km² of the surface of the Earth per day, it is nearly the surface of France metropole.

The Pléiades system should be fully operational during the 2nd quarter of 2013 after the in-flight commissioning phase of the second satellite.

November 2012 

Sandy's damages at Port-au-Prince seen by Pléiades-1A

Before reaching the USA East coasts on October 29, the hurricane Sandy passed through the Caribbean and wreak havoc in Haiti, where 51 people were killed and about 15 are missing.

The intense downpours that came with the massive storm Sandy in Haiti triggered floods of most of the island rivers, and more particularly of the River Grise that runs through Haiti's capital.

These catastrophic events could be observed by Pléiades-1A satellite, operated by Astrium and mobilized in emergency in the framework of the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters".

The Charter was triggered on October 29 by the United Nations and lead by CNES in order to bring help on crisis management to Haiti's authorities and to the NGOs present on site.

Despite poor weather conditions, an image of the capital Port-au-Prince could be acquired by Pléiades-1A on November 2nd and exploited by SERTIT (Service Régional de Traitement d'Images et de Télédétection de Strasbourg).

The comparison with another Pléiades-1A image acquired last summer enabled to precisely map the riverbank changes, and more particularly to delineate the areas swept away by the river. A comprehensive inventory of the sunken buildings - over 150 - was then realized.

Sandy's damages at Port-au-Prince seen by Pléiades-1A
Sandy's damages at Port-au-Prince seen by Pléiades-1A

Beyond this impact inventory following superstorm Sandy, the mapping of riverbank displacements using Pléiades aims to feed into risk memory concerning this ever-present hazard in Haiti.

This feedback will be particularly useful to Haiti's authorities in charge of the risk management and the land use planning, to refine the delineation of the urban areas liable to flooding

October 23, 2012 

Pléiades-1B satellite went to Guiana on October 23 where its launch campaign is underway

After checking its good functioning, the tanks have been filled with ergols, then the satellite was coupled to the Fregat stage last week. Once equiped of the fairing, the upper composit will rejoin the three-stages Soyuz on the landing pad.

A last general rehearsing of the launch operations is planned 2 days before the launch.

FREGAT fairing and the payload at S3B FREGAT fairing and the payload at S3B
FREGAT fairing and the payload at S3B

July 2012 

PLEIADES activated to help rescue teams in Russia

On Saturday 7th of July, torrential rains swept the Southern Russian Krasnodar region, killing more than 150 people. A foot of rain dropped in the Black Sea region forcing thousands of residents to scramble out of their beds seeking refuge on trees and rooftops.

The International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" was activated by USGS on behalf of ROSCOSMOS/EMERCOM of Russia to help rescue teams in their efforts with accurate geo-information from space.

Even though PLEIADES 1A, our recent Very-High-Resolution satellite is not yet in the Charter, CNES and Astrium Services jointly decided to exceptionally task the satellite to acquire images of the affected area, and effectively acquired cloud-free imagery on July 16th, which was delivered to the Charter shortly after acquisition.

Below is the photo-interpretation of the image realised by SERTIT.

Damage Assessment Map Damage Assessment Map - Western part of Krymsk
Damage Assessment Map - Southern part of Krymsk
June 26, 2012 End of the Image Quality in-flight commissioning
June 4, 2012 Beginning of the commercial distribution of PLEIADES images
March 3, 2012 End of system in-flight commissioning
January 2012 A few images acquired by PLEIADES:

Bora Bora island in Polynesia   San Francisco, Californie, USA
Bora Bora island in Polynesia and San Francisco, Californie, USA

More images in the "Gallery".

December 17, 2011 Successful launch for PLEIADES and its companions

Soyouz lift off on December 17, 2011 by CNES

Night of December 16 to 17, 2011 PLEIADES satellite Launch by a Soyouz rocket from Kourou
November 29, 2011 Operational Qualification Review
November - December 2011 PLEIADES launch campaign in Kourou
November 3, 2011 PLEIADES satellite departure for the launch campaign in Kourou
October 4, 2011 Kick-off of the pre-launch campaign activities in Metropole
August to end of September 2011 PLEIADES-HR1A satellite destorage
September 2010 Preparatory Operational Qualification Review
December 4,2009 Beginning of the System Technical Qualification Review
November 19, 2009 Delivery by Thales Alenia Space of the instrument Flight Model 2 to Astrium
November 12, 2009 Delivery by Astrium of the Satellite Flight Model 1 to CNES
September 2009 Rendez-vous between the satellite, the controle center (SDGC) and the mission centres for the complete system tests
February to end of July 2009 The satellite Flight Model 1 successfully passed the environment tests at Intespace: thermal, mechanical, solar generators deploiment and electro-magnetic tests.
January 2009 Rendez-vous between the satellite, the controle center (SDGC) and the mission centres for the complete system tests
End of July 2008 to mid-November 2009 Satellite Assembly Integration and Tests (AIT)
1st half of 2008 Instrument Assembly Integration and Tests (AIT)
November 2007 First programming test of the satellite Flight Model 1. The programming message, generated with the first version newly commissionned of the Programming Chain, was executed on the Satellite Flight Model 1 (in integration at Astrium in Toulouse) and enabled to acquire about 250 images. These images, downloaded using on board equipments representative of the Pleiades X-band station, are being processed on the Imaging Chain, itself newly delivered to CNES.
The success of this test is very promissing and demonstrates a maturity level reassuring while the system tests have not begun yet, over two years before the launch, now schedulled for the beginning of 2010.
July 2007 End of first bus integration.
June 2007 Satellite Critical Design Review.
October 2006 Instrument Critical Design Review.
June 2006 System Interface Review.
February 2006 Multispectral filters flight model delivery.
February 2006 Call for Tender for Users Centers Integration
December 2005 Programming chain: the Software Specification Review was successful. The authorisation to begin the preliminary design phase was given.
December 2005 Command Control chain: the Software Specification Review was successful. The authorisation to begin the preliminary design phase was given.
December 2005 The compatibility tests between image telemetry reception stations and the on board telemetry equipment were successful.
November 2005 Users Centers Integration: The Preliminary Design Review took place. The preparation phase for the corresponding call for tender begins.
October 2005 Image chain: the Software Specification Review was successful. The authorisation to begin the preliminary design phase was given.
October 2005 Call for Tender for BPD/GIDE
October 2005 Multispectral detectors flight model delivery
June 2005 Attribution of the encrypting server for the TC link and the decipherer for the instrument TM contract to Thales-Com.
June 2005 Attribution of the Ground Segment parts supplying contracts:
  • Programming chain: attributed to CAP Gemini - CSSI industrial consortium
  • Image chain: attributed to Thales-IS
  • Image receiving station: attributed to IN-SNEC
  • Command-Control Center: attributed to CSSI
April 2005 Signature of the Agreement with Spain (Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aerospacial).
March 2005 Signature of the Agreement with Sweden (Swedish Natioanl Space Board).
December 2004 Attribution of the launch contract to Arianespace, for a launch by a Soyouz rocket from Kourou.
September 2004 Ratification of the Turin agreement, signed in September 2001
March 2004 PLEIADES cooperation agreement signature with Sweden
December 2003 ORFEO System Definition Review
October 2003 Satellites supplying contract signature with Astrium
May 22-23, 2003 "Very High Spatial Resolution Workshop at CNES
April 1-2, 2003 ORFEO users' seminar
February 2003 Pleiades-HR Instrument Preliminary Definition Review
December 2002 Pleaides-HR System Design Review
May 28-29, 2002 Pleaides internal seminar
April 2002 Pleaides-HR Satellite Preliminary Definition Review
March 2002 ORFEO Intermediate System Definition Review
June 22, 2001 Signature of a memorandum of agreement between CNES and ASI.
At the last Paris Air Show (June 2001), a memorandum of agreement was signed between the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (French space agency) and the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (Italian space agency) for the definition phase of a Dual System with an Earth observation capability using optical satellites, radar satellites and an associated ground segment.
The Dual System to be developed is composed of the following elements:
  • An optical component composed of 2 satellites and the corresponding ground functions, developed under french control,
  • A radar component composed of 4 satellites and the corresponding ground functions, developed under italian control,
  • A user ground segment developed jointly by France and Italy
January 29, 2001 Signature in Turin of a governmental agreement between France and Italy for cooperation in the field of Earth Observation.
May 10, 2000 Pleaides workshop "Conceivable Systems for Pleaides"
March 8, 2000 "Pleaides Requirements" users' workshop

Latest update 25/11/2013