What is Pleiades?

The Pléiades system

Pléiades 1A was launched on December 17th 2011 and Pléiades 1B on December 2nd 2012. Together they are twin satellites developed by CNES (the French space agency).

Pléiades is the optical part of the French-Italian ORFEO system, which intended to fulfil the civil and military needs in the field of very high resolution optical and radar imagery.

The Pléiades satellites orbit the Earth at an altitude of 694 km. They are equipped with a high resolution optical instrument that can take panchromatic images with 70 cm resolution, which is afterwards resampled to 50 cm, and multispectral images in 4 bands (blue, green, red and near infrared) with a resolution of 2,8 m, which is resampled to 2 m. The fusion of both modes results in colour images with a 50 cm resolution.

Both satellites are situated on the same orbit, 180° apart, resulting in a revisit time of 24 hours for any place on Earth.

Since June 2012 the Pléiades products are generally available through the commercial circuit that has been set up by Airbus Defence and Space Geo-Information Services (previously called Spot Image/Astrium).

Why and how to use Pléiades data?

The images can be used for a variety of applications in many fields. Their usage however requires a minimum of knowledge in Remote Sensing as well as the necessary software for image processing.

To get familiar with satellite imagery, you can look up the module Understanding Remote Sensing on the Belgian Earth Observation website.

On the website Orfeo Toolbox you can find free image processing software, manuals and user tips.

If you’re looking for more information on the different Pléiades products (processing level, formats, …), download the Pléiades User Guide on the Airbus Geo Information website.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the STEREO team.

Useful links