Pléiades is the optical component of the Italian - French cooperative programme ORFEO (Optical and Radar Federated Earth Observation). Purpose of this programme is to set up an Earth observation capacity with both optical and radar sensors in order to meet the needs of civil and military European users. CNES, the French space agency, is responsible for the optical component Pleiades (2 satellites). The radar component Cosmo-Skymed (4 satellites) is provided by the Italian Space Agency.

As a continuation of its participation in the SPOT program, Belgium also participates in the Pléiades programme, along with Sweden, Spain and Austria. In exchange for this cooperation, the Belgian institutions are entitled to a certain quota of new acquisitions and archive images at reduced prices. For more information visit the Belgian Pléiades Portal.

The Pléiades 1A satellite was launched in December 2011 and its twin Pléiades 1B in December 2012. These small (less than 1000 kg) and very agile satellites can rapidly change direction and perform a viewing angle in all directions. Moreover, they are located 180 degrees apart on the same orbit, so each site on Earth is visited at least once a day. Spot 6 (launched in September 2012) and Spot 7 (launched in June 2014) are each positioned at 90° from the Pléiades satellites, resulting in the completion of the constellation that is intended to ensure the continuity of the SPOT program, and deliver footage in high and very high resolution ranges.

Pléiades 1A and 1B
The Pléiades satellites are actually equipped with a sensor that can make color images with a 50 cm resolution and a strip width of 20 km (100 km in mosaic shot). The instrument is also able to deliver stereo and tristereo images (with an additional quasi-nadir image).

altitude: 694 km
orbit: heliosynchronous quasi-circular
revisit time: 2 days
swath width: 20 km at nadir

satellites : Pléiades 1A 17/12/2011 - present
  Pléiades 1B 01/12/2012 - present

Pléiades' high resolution sensor
Pléiades’ high resolution sensor makes images in panchromatic mode with a resolution of 70 cm, which are resampled to 50 cm at ground level. In multispectral mode it shoots images of 2.8m resolution, which are resampled to 2 m. Merger of the two product types thus results in color images with a resolution of 50 cm.

Spectral band
Multispectral Blue 0,430 - 0,550 µm 2m x 2m
  Green 0,500 - 0,620 µm 2m x 2m
  Red 0,590 - 0,710 µm 2m x 2m
  Near IR 0,740 – 0,940 µm 2m x 2m
Panchromatic PAN 0,470 - 0,820 µm 50cm x 50cm


Wildfires in Catalonia observed by Pléiades (false colour, 24 July 2012)
© CNES 2012 - Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image S.A.


Pléiades satellite image - Texas, United States
© CNES 2012 - Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image S.A.


Pléiades satellite image - Taketomi-jima, Japan
© CNES 2012 - Distribution Astrium Services /
Spot Image S.A.

Data distributor

Airbus Defence and Space - GEO-Information
5 rue des Satellites
BP 14 359
F - 31030 Toulouse cedex 4
Tel: +33 (0)5 62 19 40 40
Fax.: +33 (0)5 62 19 40 11

More information

Pléiades on the Astrium website
Pléiades Image Gallery
Pléiades, an innovative system - CNES Mag Educ

Belgian Pléiades Portal

Pléiades satellite image - Cairo, Egypt
© CNES 2012 - Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image S.A.