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SPOT

Looking down on Earth

Observing the Earth is one of humankind's oldest dreams. In the middle of the 19th century, the French photographer Félix Tournachon, better known as Nadar, used a balloon to take the earliest aerial photographs of the Earth. The first artificial satellite in 1957, followed in 1972 by the US satellite Landsat specifically designed for Earth observation, revolutionized our vision of the planet, enabling us to see vast expanses at a glance.

SPOT (Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre, French for "Earth observation satellite") is a high-resolution, optical imaging system operating from space. This programme is part of CNES's Earth observation strategy. Since 1986, the SPOT family of satellites has been viewing our planet and providing remarkably high-quality images.

SPOT is the best-performing civil satellite of its generation. In spite of increasing competition, SPOT has become the worldwide standard in satellite imagery.

SPOT
(Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre – Earth Observation Satellite)
Initiator CNES
Origin Studies for an Earth observation system carried out by CNES in the 1970s
Status SPOT 4 and SPOT 5 currently operationals
Participants CNES, SSTC (Belgian scientific, technical and cultural services), Swedish Space Corporation (Swedish space agency)
Goals Help to improve knowledge and management of our planet
Objectives Explore Earth's resources; detect and forecast phenomena involving climatology and oceanography; monitor human activities and natural phenomena
Principal missions SPOT 1 – 1986 / 2003
SPOT 2 – 1990 / 2009
SPOT 3 – 1993 / 1996
SPOT 4 – 1998
SPOT 5 – 2002
Launchers Ariane 2, 3 and 4


Last updated: August 2009

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