France: The Europen Space Agency’s is developing Proba-V, a micro-satellite to deliver a daily overview of virtually all vegetation growth across Earth. It will perform an equivalent job to the wide-swath ‘Vegetation’ camera on France’s full-sized Spot-5 satellite. According to ESA, engineers needed to shrink it by a factor of ten, swapping glass lenses for lighter aluminium mirrors and combining three separate telescopes.
Proba-V is a new departure for the Proba series, explained Karim Mellab, Proba-V Project Manager: “Proba-V’s Vegetation payload will need to be operational on top of its experimental nature.”
For the past 12 years, the Vegetation camera on Spot-4 and Spot-5 has been recording global vegetation growth and land cover changes, using its extremely wide 2250 km multispectral viewing swath and the ability to revisit all locations on Earth on a daily basis. But France’s planned Pleiades follow-on satellites have no room to carry further Vegetation cameras. Instead, ESA and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office began investigating the feasibility of flying a cut-down version of the instrument to continue delivering data to its users.
“One of our main objectives is to get the new sensor in orbit by mid-2012,” explained Mr Mellab. “This will give us overlap with Spot-5’s Vegetation sensor, allowing us to calibrate the new instrument.”