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Key Facts - SPOT

  • SPOT stands for Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre
  • The SPOT satellite Earth Observation System was designed by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), in France.
  • The CNES, owns and operates the SPOT satellite system while worldwide commercial operations are anchored by private companies (i.e. SPOT IMAGE Corporation in the United States, SPOT IMAGE in France, SATIMAGE in Sweden, and distributors in over 40 countries).
  • The SPOT Program supports commercial remote sensing on an international scale, establishing a global network of control centers, receiving stations, processing centres, and data distributors.

Extent of Coverage

The SPOT satellites maintain a near-polar, near-circular, sun-synchronous orbit with a mean altitude of 832 km (at 45 degrees north latitude which corresponds to continental France), an inclination of 98.7 degrees, and a mean revolution period equaling 101.4 minutes.

The SPOT satellites orbit the same ground track every 26 days with a nominal cycle of 369 revolutions. Crossing the equator from north to south at 10:30 a.m. mean local solar time, the satellites reference tracks are 108.6 km apart. The reference tracks draw closer at higher altitudes.

The SPOT system provides global coverage between 87 degrees north latitude and 87 degrees south latitude. Each nominal scene covers a 60- by 60-km area. See The Spot Image Corporation pdf for an explanation of SPOT on its orbit.

HRV--High Resolution Visible Imaging Instrument

The HRV instrument is a multispectral radiometer designed for SPOT spacecraft. The HRV instrument provides for high-resolution imaging in the visible and near-infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The first three SPOT satellites carry twin HRVs that operate in a number of viewing configurations and in different spectral modes.

Some of those viewing configurations and spectral modes include one HRV only operating in a dual spectral mode (i.e. in both panchromatic mode and multispectral mode); two HRVs operating in the twin-viewing configuration (i.e. one HRV in panchromatic mode and one HRV in multispectral mode); and two HRVs operating independently of each other (i.e. not in twin-viewing configuration).

The position of each HRV entrance mirror can be commanded by ground control to observe a region of interest. Operating independently of each other, the two HRVs acquire imagery in either multispectral (XS) and/or panchromatic (P) modes at any viewing angle within plus or minus 27 degrees. This off-nadir viewing enables the acquisition of stereoscopic imagery. To make sure the satellite covers every point on the earth's surface, the HRV imaging instruments offer a field of view that is wider than the greatest distance between two adjacent tracks.

Receiving Stations

Two main stations are located at Toulouse (France) and Kiruna (Sweden). These stations are capable of receiving the telemetry recorded on the on-board recorders or directly within their visibility circle of approximately 2500 km radius centered on the stations. 22 direct receiving locations (DRS) can only receive telemetry within their visibility circle.