Pleiades Satellite Constellation: Spot the Detail

Pleiades Satellite Products: © CNES 2011-15, Distribution Airbus DS. Courtesy of BlackBridge
Pleiades Satellite Products: © CNES 2011-15, Distribution Airbus DS. Courtesy of BlackBridge

Last Updated: Aug 22, 2017

The Perfect Pair – Pleiades 1A and 1B

There’s Pleiades as in the seven sisters in Greek mythology. There’s also the far, far away star cluster Pleiades – which earned its name from Greek mythology. But today we’re here to give you the scoop on the Pleiades satellite constellation.

In 2011 and 2012, the pair of Pleiades satellites were launched. The constellation comprises of two satellites – Pleiades 1A and Pleiades 1B. They share the same orbital plane as SPOT-6 and 7 giving daily revisits over any point on the globe.

The Pleiades satellite tag team is agile. They provide global coverage of the Earth surface equipped with high resolution, multispectral sensors. To say the least: they are a unique pair of satellites used in a wide variety of applications.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Pleiades satellites:

Pleiades Satellite Timeline

Pleiades are perfect twins that operate on the same orbit. They can revisit your site daily to regularly monitor and track changes.
Airbus Defense & Space

The Pleiades satellite constellation was built under the French-Italian ORFEO programme. But France and Italy are not the only end-users of Pleiades satellite data. Spain, Belgium, Sweden and Austria also are users of this system.

Pleiades 1A was launched on December 17, 2011. Pleiades 1B entered orbit on December 2, 2012. With launches almost a year and 90° apart from one another, Pleiades 1A and 1B share the same orbital plane with a daily access to every point on Earth,.

The Pleiades satellites succeed in a big way because of their agility:

Pleiades 1A Spain Cartagena Harbour
Pleiades Products: © CNES 2011-15, Distribution Airbus DS.

They have the versatility to minimize programming conflicts because of its state-of-the-art image processing chain. They require only six hours notice before image acquisition – ideal for crisis mapping. Because of its ability to input multiple programming plans per day, this makes Pleiades satellites very responsive to specific user requirements.

  • Pleiades 1A was launched from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on December 17, 2011. CNES was the overall system prime contractor.
  • Pleiades 1B was launched from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on December 2, 2012. CNES was the overall system prime contractor.

Spectral Band Designations




Pleiades 1A and 1B are identical for their specifications. They both deliver high resolution optical images

Image acquisition are 50 cm panchromatic and 2 m multispectral (blue, green, red and near infrared). Pleiades satellite swath width is 20 km. They provide total coverage of the Earth’s surface with a repeat cycle of 26 days. They follow the exact same path as SPOT-6 and 7.

Pleiades 1A and 1B Bands and Spatial Resolution

  • Panchromatic – 0.48 – 0.83 µm (0.5 m)
  • Blue 0.43 µm – 0.55 µm (2 m)
  • Green – 0.49 – 0.61 µm (2 m)
  • Red – 0.60 – 0.72 µm (2 m)
  • Near infrared – 0.75 – 0.95 µm (2 m)

Pleiades Satellite Applications and Case Studies

The Pleiades satellite system was primarily designed for European civil and military. Emergency response and change detection were two key applications for Pleiades satellite data.

But it has evolved into much more than this. Imagery is available for users worldwide and Pleiades satellite data is being used in a wide range of remote sensing applications. These include and are not limited to land planning, agriculture, defense, hydrology, forestry and 3D applications.

1. Detecting Coastline Changes

Coastline Levels

Researchers have found heat waves, rain storms and extreme weather severity has increased because of climate change. Shorelines have suffered more severe onslaught with higher risk of erosion and river flooding. Coastlines changes in particular have seen a dramatic effect.

In order to monitor these coastline positions, the agile Pléiades satellite can offer a solution because of its unique programming modes, daily revisit frequency and multiple acquisitions. Using Pleiades high spatial resolution data, researchers can quantify coastline change with multi-year observations and compare results.

As a result, planners can rethink affected areas. How can erosion be slowed down? How can sites be restored? What is the extent of coastline change. These are the questions that Pleiades satellite data help provide answers to.

2. Unprecedented Responsiveness for Data Acquisition

Pipes

Where Pleiades really shines is its ability to meet user request with speed and agility.

When Australia’s Great Barrier Reef needed image acquisition, Plaiades collected it in a single 100 kilometer wide pass. Pleiades responded with rapid data acquisition in a single working day for 11 different pump stations along the Transco pipeline in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Rapid speed. Unprecedented responsiveness. Versatility. Pleiades specializes in meeting user demand quickly with detailed satellite data acquisitions.

READ MORE: 100 Earth Shattering Remote Sensing Applications & Uses

Pleiades Questions

When were the Pleiades satellites launched into orbit?
Pleiades 1A was launched on December 17, 2011. Pleiades 1B entered orbit on December 2, 2012
Where can I purchase Pleiades imagery?
Imagery is available from Airbus Defense & Space Pleiades.
What is the resolution of Pleiades imagery?
The green, red, blue and near-infrared bands have a resolution of 2 meters. The panchromatic band has a ground resolution of 0.5 meters.
What is the ORFEO Toolbox?
The ORFEO programme is also known for its open source remote sensing it has developed. The ORFEO toolbox software can perform a range of remote sensing functions. This includes radiometry, PCA, change detection, pan sharpening, image segmentation, classification and filtering.

Conclusion

The Pleiades satellite tag team is agile because it’s able to take user requests with minimal conflicts.

They provide global coverage of the Earth surface, with both 1A and 1B in the same sun-synchronous orbit.

They are high resolution from 2 meters multispectral and a 0.5 meter panchromatic band.

To say the least: they are a unique pair of satellites used in a wide variety of applications.

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