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February 26, 2014
Tiny Proba-V Satellite Is a Workhorse

This Proba-V image of the Ganges Delta, the world’s largest, was acquired on Feb. 2, 2014, at 100-meter spatial resolution. The delta plain, about 350 km wide along the Bay of Bengal, is formed by the confluence of the rivers Ganges, the Brahmaputra and Meghna.

During its first two months, the European Space Agency’s Proba-V minisatellite collected more than 5,000 images, 65 daily global maps and six 10-day global syntheses, plus gave us a quick peek at the Olympics.

Measuring less than a cubic meter, Proba-V tracks vegetation growth across the world on a near-daily basis—93 percent of the globe is covered in one day and 100 percent in two days—using its main wide-viewing Vegetation camera. Launched last May, the satellite began its routine working life in early December.

Scientists can use the Proba-V data with confidence, knowing they have been cross-calibrated with its predecessor, the Vegetation sensor on France’s SPOT 5 satellite. The new camera improves on SPOT’s in one important respect: While the first-generation instrument images the world at 1-km resolution, Proba-V’s vision is much sharper. It offers daily near-global coverage at 333-meter resolution with geolocation accuracy better than one pixel. The central 500 km of Proba-V’s 2,250-km field of view is even sharper—about 100-meter resolution in the visible and near-infrared and about 200-meter resolution in the shortwave infrared.

Proba-V’s excellent performance means global products with 100-meter resolution are probably possible in the near future. A future 100-meter-resolution Proba mission now is being studied. The output is processed for the European Space Agency by VITO, Belgium’s Flemish institute for technological research.

Image courtesy of European Space Agency/VITO.

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