Earth observation satellite captures first images

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Pleiades, the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Earth observation satellite, has captured its first images using e2v high-performance imaging sensors. Two types of e2v sensors (for panchromatic and multispectral imaging) equip the satellite’s high-resolution optical imaging instrument. These were selected by Thales Alenia Space, who provided the High Resolution (HR) instrument to Astrium, which was developed under CNES contract.

The Pleiades satellites are French dual-use observation satellites which will meet the needs of both civil and military users in Europe for a wide range of applications, including mapping, urban development, hydrology, geophysics and vulcanology. Furthermore, a French Italian agreement will allow users to have access to data provided by the four Italian COSMO-SkyMed radar observation satellites, developed by Thales Alenia Space Italy and launched from 2007 to 2010. The first Pleiades satellite was successfully launched into space on the 17 December 2011 with the second due to launch at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013. They will orbit the Earth, capturing very high resolution images from an altitude of 694km, for a period of at least five years.

The 200kg, high-resolution optical imaging instrument onboard Pleiades is equipped with a panchromatic and multispectral focal plane. Five e2v CCD98-50 imaging sensors equip the panchromatic focal plane; the sensors have 6,000 pixels each (giving 30,000 pixels per line), are back-thinned to improve sensitivity and have Time Delay Integration (TDI) functionality to enable them to capture high resolution images (70cm on ground resolution). The multispectral focal plane is made up of five e2v AT71554 imaging sensors. These imaging sensors cover four spectral bands, made up of 1,500 pixels each, with each spectral band providing 7,500 pixels once installed in the focal plane.

Bertrand De Monte, marketing manager of high performance imaging at e2v, said: ‘These first images from Pleiades are the result of a close, successful working relationship between e2v, Thales Alenia Space and CNES to develop and produce these two types of imaging sensor. e2v is very proud to have contributed to this mission and to have made these very high resolution Earth observation images possible.’

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