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Posted on January 10th, 2013

The World’s First High-Resolution Constellation

The first 50-cm natural color image collected by Pléiades 1B was on December 5, 2012 of Lorient, France. © CNES 2012, Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image S.A., France, all rights reserved.

This 50-cm natural color image of Madrid, Spain was also collected by Pléiades 1B on December 5, 2012. © CNES 2012, Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image S.A., France, all rights reserved.

On December 2, 2012, Soyuz flight VS04 launched from the Guiana Space Centre with Astrium Geo Services’ newest high resolution satellite, Pléiades 1B, on board. The launch marked a new success for ESA, CNES and Arianespace, who jointly operate the launch pad, less than a year after orbiting its twin, Pléiades 1A. Astrium Geo is the exclusive distributor of imagery from both Pléiades 1A and 1B. And not to be forgotten with the news of this success, Astrium launched another satellite this year, SPOT 6, on September 9th which will collect high-quality 1.5-meter imagery in the coming months.

Pléiades 1B was released from the Soyuz launch vehicle at 03:57 near its final 694-km orbital height. Phased 180° apart in the same orbit, Pléiades 1A and Pléiades 1B form a constellation that now offers daily high-resolution revisit capacity.

This unique high-resolution orbital configuration marks a new level in service quality. The ability to acquire imagery every day from any point on the globe is vital where a quick operational response is required. In the event of a crisis or natural disaster, Pléiades is the ideal solution for planning relief and rescue operations.

The satellites’ daily revisit capability and imaging width of 20 kilometers also means more effective change detection. For example, it is now possible to activate daily tasking to track progress of civil engineering works, monitor an industrial facility or keep an eye on mining operations.

The two-satellite constellation brings a twofold increase in global acquisition capacity, ideal for mapping large areas that can now be covered twice as quickly. It also doubles the chances of acquiring cloud-free imagery.

With 50-cm products delivered in record time, multiple acquisition modes and daily revisits, the Pléiades constellation offers new opportunities for detailed Earth observation to serve a broad spectrum of precision applications, including site monitoring, disaster response support, urban mapping and more effective natural resource management.

Just three days after its launch into orbit, Pléiades 1B obtained the 50-cm color images you see in this article – that’s impressive to say the least!
For more information on the Pléiades constellation, please email the Apollo Mapping sales team at

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