Mission Background

The SPOT programme consists of a series of optical remote sensing satellites with the primary mission of obtaining Earth imagery for land use, agriculture, forestry, geology, cartography, regional planning, water resources and GIS applications. It is committed to commercial remote sensing on an international scale and has established a global network of control centres, receiving stations, processing centres and data distributors. SPOT 2 was operated by the French Space Agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). 

Satellite Design

The spacecraft was three-axis stabilised to 0.1° using momentum wheels. A single solar array generated 1,000 W of power. Downlink at 8 GHz and 2 x 25 Mbps. A hydrazine propulsion system provided orbit maintenance.

CNES innovated over Landsat by equipping the SPOT satellites with steerable mirrors to enable viewing on either side of the ground track, over a 950 km swath, and to acquire imagery from different angles for relief mapping, notably to generate digital terrain models.

Technical Specification
Mass 1869 kg
Dimensions 3.5 m x 15.6 m
Design Lifetime 3 years

Mission Operations

The SPOT orbit is polar, circular, Sun-synchronous, and phased. The inclination of the orbital plane combined with the rotation of Earth around the polar axis allows the satellite to fly over any point on Earth within 26 days. The orbit has an altitude of 832 kilometres, an inclination of 98.7°, and completing over 14 revolutions per day.