Posted on October 16th, 2012

Reaching Orbit – The New SPOT 6 Satellite

Astrium-Geo has undertaken an unprecedented step by launching two self-funded satellites as a private company. SPOT 6 was launched successfully on September 9, 2012 and will be followed by its twin, SPOT 7, in the coming months.







There are a number of new features on these twin satellites that separate them from earlier SPOT sensors. SPOT 6 and 7 imagery can be ordered already pansharpened and orthorectified with a horizontal accuracy of 10-meter CE90. The new satellites have four multispectral bands like their predecessors; however, they will simultaneously collect panchromatic imagery with 1.5-meter resolution, which is a new feature for the SPOT satellites. The four multispectral bands include red, green, blue and near-infrared (NIR) with 6-meter resolution – the blue band is a new for the SPOT family while the short-wave IR band has been dropped (as can be seen in the table below).

small_BoraBora_Airport This image of Bora Bora is the first SPOT 6 image released since it launched in September, 2012. © CNES 2012, Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image S.A., France, all rights reserved.

Like previous SPOT satellites, the swath width of SPOT 6 and 7 is 60 kilometers allowing each to have a daily collection capacity of 3 million square kilometers. With their powers combined, they will revisit any place on earth on a daily basis. They will also follow the same path as Pleiades-1A and Pleiades-1B, creating a constellation of satellites that allows for multiple daily passes of the same area at different resolutions. Astrium-Geo’s tasking strategy includes six tasking plans per day with the ability to collect stereo and tri-stereo orders. They will utilize multiple weather forecasts a day with a 24-hour tasking plan.

Here is a summary of the key SPOT 6 and 7 technical specifications:

  • Spectral Bands: 1.5-m resolution Panchromatic and 6-m resolution multispectral (B, G, R and NIR)
  • Swath Width: 60-km at nadir
  • Ortho Imagery Location Accuracy: 10-meter CE90
  • Daily Collection Capacity: 3 million sq km


The southern end of Bora Bora as captured by SPOT 6. © CNES 2012, Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image S.A., France, all rights reserved.

SPOT 7 will join SPOT 6 and the Pleiades twins sometime in 2014. SPOT 6 and 7 will continue the SPOT mission and should provide medium resolution imagery until 2023.

Katie Nelson

Geospatial Ninja

(303) 718-7163

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