Wide-eyed Proba-V will track global vegetation daily

May 04, 2010
ESA's Proba-V mission will host a version of the multispectral Vegetation sensor currently flying on France's Spot-5 satellite, ensuring data continuity to users when the Spot series ends around 2013. Credits: ESA

(PhysOrg.com) -- The small but powerful camera of ESA's Proba-V mission can fit on a single laboratory table for testing. But when it reaches orbit, this compact sensor will deliver a daily overview of virtually all vegetation growth across Earth.

Daily global monitoring is an ambitious enough goal for a full-sized mission, but Proba is ESA’s smallest satellite platform - smaller than a cubic metre.

The aim is to have a microsatellite doing an equivalent job to the wide-swath ‘Vegetation’ camera on France’s full-sized Spot-5 satellite. But engineers needed to shrink it by a factor of ten, swapping glass lenses for lighter aluminium mirrors and combining three separate telescopes.

A test version of Proba-V’s wide-viewing imager has been subjected to a combination of hard vacuum and temperature extremes in ESTEC’s Mechanical Systems Laboratory, simulating conditions it will face in space.

“We are checking the instrument temperature stays within set limits,” said Jorg Versluys of Belgium’s OIP, the company building the imager. “Because its three telescopes have overlapping views, any temperature-driven deformation could put them out of alignment.”


Proba-V is a new departure for the Proba series, explained Karim Mellab, Proba-V Project Manager: “Proba-V’s Vegetation payload will need to be operational on top of its experimental nature.”

For the past 12 years, the Vegetation camera on Spot-4 and Spot-5 has been recording global vegetation growth and land cover changes, using its extremely wide 2250 km multispectral viewing swath and the ability to revisit all locations on Earth on a daily basis.

But France’s planned Pleiades follow-on satellites have no room to carry further Vegetation cameras. Instead, ESA and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office began investigating the feasibility of flying a cut-down version of the instrument to continue delivering data to its users.

“One of our main objectives is to get the new sensor in orbit by mid-2012,” explained Mr Mellab. “This will give us overlap with Spot-5’s Vegetation sensor, allowing us to calibrate the new instrument.”

Explore further: Voyager map details Neptune's strange moon Triton

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Proba-3: ESA’s first step towards formation flying

Aug 08, 2006

Proba-3 is the third in ESA’s series of missions for validating developments in space systems while carrying an ‘added value’ user payload which can directly benefit from the innovations under test. Proba-3 ...

Proba-2 satellite flies into its Russian launch site

Sep 07, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Proba-2 has reached Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, where it is being prepared for launch this November. Among the smallest satellites ever built by ESA, it was transported there aboard ...

Recommended for you

Voyager map details Neptune's strange moon Triton

1 hour ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager's historic footage of Triton has been "restored" ...

How the sun caused an aurora this week

2 hours ago

On the evening of Aug. 20, 2014, the International Space Station was flying past North America when it flew over the dazzling, green blue lights of an aurora. On board, astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this ...

NKorea launch pad expansion 'nearing completion'

13 hours ago

A U.S. research institute says construction to upgrade North Korea's main rocket launch pad should be completed by fall, allowing Pyongyang (pyuhng-yahng) to conduct a launch by year's end if it decides to do so.

Mars, Saturn and the claws of Scorpius

19 hours ago

Look up at the night sky this week and you'll find Mars and Saturn together in the west. Mars stands out with its reddish colouring and you might just be able to detect a faint yellow tinge to Saturn. ...

User comments : 0