QinetiQ satellite launched for earth observation mission

07 May 2013

Proba-V to be used for global Vegetation monitoring

07 May 2013 - Proba-V, a small satellite-based earth observation system for vegetation studies, developed by QinetiQ, launched today.

Developed by QinetiQ Space for the European Space Agency (ESA), the state-of-the-art Proba satellite platform, Proba-V, launched at 04:06am on 7th May (Europe CEST) from Kourou, French Guiana.

During the five year mission, the miniature Earth-observer will enable vegetation visibility for a number of institutions and the ability to build applications to study agriculture and crop growth, deforestation, vegetation change, as well as the impact of climate change.

The orbit of the Proba platform, and an innovative optical instrument, ensures complete global coverage every two days. The satellite incorporates a wide-angle telescope within its main multi-spectral Earth-monitoring instrument, capable of imaging a 2,250 km swath across the globe. The image strips developed combine to create a complete picture of the earth’s vegetation data at 350 m resolution.

Leo Quinn, Chief Executive at QinetiQ, said: “This is another landmark achievement for the QinetiQ Space Team and after four years of work we are extremely proud to see the launch of this highly innovative minisatellite. The Proba-V mission highlights QinetiQ Space’s end-to-end mission capabilities, from technology development to management of the flight segment, and we look forward to seeing the satellites achievements in support of ESA in due course.”

Although smaller than a cubic metre, the satellite also carries a pair of radiation sensors, a fibre optic connector experiment, a prototype radio transmitter based on the semiconductor gallium nitride, and a test receiver to track global aircraft movement. Proba-V will be the world’s first space mission to detect Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast signals from aircraft, building up a global overview of air traffic.

The Proba-V mission is due to end in July 2018.

QinetiQ is a world leader in deploying sophisticated technologies, delivering robust solutions for deep space exploration, space and near space communications, navigation and earth observation. Customers include NASA, DoD, ESA, the EU, the UK’s MOD and a wide range of commercial organisations in the global space, aerospace, communications and security sectors.

Notes for Editors:

Proba-V facts and figures

Launch date: May 2013
Mass: 140 kg
Orbit: Sun-synchronous polar orbit, 820 km altitude, crossing the equator every morning between 10:30 and 11:00 local time
Instrument: New version of the Vegetation imager previously flown on the Spot satellites
Guest technology payloads: Gallium nitride amplifier incorporated in communication subsystem; Energetic Particle Telescope; SATRAM radiation monitor, ADS-B aircraft signal detector; fibre optic photonics experiment
Ground segment: Satellite’s mission control centre in Redu, Belgium complemented by a ground station for data reception, and a processing and archiving centre at VITO in Belgium.

The exploitation phase of Proba-V will be managed by ESA from ESRIN, ESA’s Earth observation centre in Italy.
Launcher: Vega


A FTSE250 company, QinetiQ uses its domain knowledge to provide technical support and know-how to customers in the global aerospace, defence and security markets. QinetiQ's unique position enables it to be a trusted partner to government organisations, predominantly in the UK and the US, including defence departments, intelligence services and security agencies.

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QinetiQ satellite launched for earth observation mission