Toulouse, 03 April 2012 - Not long after arriving on orbit, Pléiades 1A trains its sights on sister satellite SPOT 5.
SPOT 5 by Pléiades, an unusual picture provided by CNES, the French space agency
Pléiades 1A’s superior agility has enabled it to accomplish the unusual feat of imaging another satellite in flight. Both satellites have been designed by CNES (French space agency) and are operated by Astrium.
The rendezvous took place from Pléiades 1A’s 700-km vantage point when it pointed its sensors at SPOT 5 orbiting 100 km below. An impressive achievement, since Pléiades 1A and SPOT 5 complete an orbital revolution of Earth in just one and a half hours, at a speed of 7.5km/s for Pléiades 1A and 7.4 km/s for SPOT 5.
In the image, SPOT 5’s solar array is clearly visible to the right and the bright spacecraft bus and optical sensors to the left.
SPOT 5, launched on 5 May 2002, has been acquiring high-resolution (2.5 m) wide-swath (60 km) imagery for 10 years. Pléiades 1A, launched on 17 December 2011, is the first in a new generation of agile, quick-reaction satellites that will deliver very-high-resolution imagery (50 cm).
Pléiades 1A will be followed into orbit by SPOT 6 before the end of this summer, its twin Pléiades 1B later in the year and SPOT 7, currently scheduled to launch in early 2014. Designed around a very similar architecture and phased in the same orbit, this constellation of four satellites will ensure increased responsiveness and availability of data products at resolutions of 50 cm to 1.5 m through to 2024.