SPOT receiving stations operate on 8 GHz (X-band).
The visibility circle of these stations is approximately 2500 km radius.
This network comprises two types of stations:
- Two main stations located at Toulouse (France) and Kiruna (Sweden). When a satellite is within range of one of these main stations, it can be programmed either to down-link image data in real-time or play back the onboard recorders and transmit image data recorded earlier. Hence, these 2 stations have access to imagery of any part of the globe.
- The direct receiving stations (DRS), which can only receive telemetry within their visibility circle. Each DRS effectively manages its own visibility zone according to the satellite resources allocated by Airbus Defence and Space.For each allocated pass, the operator can either specify directly the imaging conditions through a dedicated dialogue with a front end computer (FAS) located in the Airbus Defence and Space or let the Programming Centre (CPR) automatically program the instruments taking into account the requests previously specified by the station.
The SPOT satellites’ image acquisition and frequent revisit capabilities enable Airbus Defence and Space to meet demands even when the satellites are in between the receiving footprints of two ground stations. If necessary, Airbus Defence and Space offers solutions that resolve any programming clashes.
SPOT 5 image telemetry is encoded to protect direct receiving stations from illegal eavesdropping. The SPOT 5 licence includes the Spot Image decoder.
Some receiving stations also distribute SPOT imagery within their own territory.