The SPOT earth observation system designed by CNES, had been in operation since February 1986. In May 2002 the SPOT-5 satellite added its new capabilities to the SPOT family. SPOT-5 was orbited by an Ariane 4 launcher. The satellite was foreseen to be under nominal operations up to 2014 as a minimum, and finally operated nominally until March 2015.
Compared to its predecessors, SPOT-5 offered greatly enhanced capabilities due to SPOT-5's improved 5-metre and 2.5-metre resolution. The satellite provided an ideal balance between high resolution and wide-area coverage. SPOT-5's other key feature was the unprecedented acquisition capability of the on-board HRS imaging instrument, which had the ability to take stereo pair images quasi-simultaneously. Stereo pair imagery is vital for applications that call for 3D terrain modelling.
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