The Pléiades 1B optical satellite has been orbited by a Soyuz launcher, joining its twin Pléiades 1A to form the first ever very-high-resolution Earth-imaging constellation of its kind.
Soyuz VS02 launcher carrying Pléiades 1A
Toulouse, France – 2 December 2012
On 2 December 2012, Soyuz flight VS04 launched the Pléiades 1B very-high-resolution optical satellite from the Guiana Space Centre. The launch marks a new success for ESA, CNES and Arianespace, who jointly operate the launch base, less than a year after orbiting Pléiades 1A. Astrium Services will be the exclusive distributor of imagery from Pléiades 1A and 1B.
Pléiades 1B was released from the launch vehicle at 03h57 near its final 694-km orbit, which it will reach within the next few days. The satellite will be phased 180° with Pléiades 1A on the same orbit to form a true constellation offering daily revisits to any point on the globe.
This daily revisit capability brings added value to users of satellite data products around the world. Being able to generate imagery anywhere in the world every day is vital for quick-response applications. With the Pléiades constellation, conflict and crisis zones or natural disaster areas will be viewable within hours to aid planning of relief and rescue operations.
Daily revisits also allow close monitoring of work progress on civil engineering projects, mining activities and industrial or military operations. And by bringing users twice as much imagery, the Pléiades satellites are ideal for mapping large areas at high resolution, as images are acquired twice as fast to increase the chances of obtaining cloud-free views.
Built by Astrium for the French space agency CNES, the Pléiades constellation offers users products at a resolution of 50-cm with an imaging swath of 20-km, the widest in its category.
The launch of Pléiades 1B marks the third step in the formation of a constellation of four satellites combining a double daily revisit capability and an ingenious range of resolutions.
From 2014, this constellation will comprise Pléiades 1A and Pléiades 1B, delivering 50-cm imagery products, and SPOT 6 and SPOT 7, designed to assure continuity of service after SPOT 5 and to supply high-resolution data products (1.5 m). SPOT 6 was launched on 9 September 2012.
Astrium Services is the exclusive distributor of data and geo-information products from this unique constellation.
Through its GEO-Information business, Astrium Services is recognized as one of the leaders in the geo-spatial information market, not least thanks to the now fully integrated skills and resources of the former Spot Image and Infoterra. The company provides decision-makers with complete solutions enabling them to increase security, boost agricultural performance, maximize oil & gas or mining operations, improve their management of natural resources, and protect the environment. It has exclusive access to data from the SPOT, TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X and Pléiades satellites, coupled with a complete range of space-based data sources and airborne acquisition capability allowing it to offer an unrivalled scope of Earth observation products and services. This extensive portfolio covers the entire geo-information supply chain, from the generation of images to the provision of high added-value information to end-users.
By leveraging the synergies and expertise available across the whole of Astrium Services, its GEO-Information teams develop innovative, yet competitive, custom-made solutions based on the combination and integration of Earth observation, navigation and high-end telecommunications.