A new regional satellite imaging service

The sky really is the best starting point to monitor changes in our regions. SPOT 6-7 makes it possible to measure coastal erosion or urban sprawl, map a forest fire, assess the occupancy rate for business parks, etc. using satellite images that provide frequently updated and wide-ranging, very high resolution data. This service will be of particular interest to scientists and public policy organizations responsible for regional planning. 

A national spatial remote sensing sector

Based on over 20 years of research, the various research organizations that make up Equipex GEOSUD [1] and the THEIA [2] hub combined their data and skills. Finally, 6 of these (CNES, Cirad, CNRS, IGN, IRD and Irstea) joined to form a consortium to create a national satellite imaging sector.  
The 4 key aspects of the service are: 
  • Location: the Remote Sensing Centre. Based in Montpellier, the center has recently been extended to accommodate new scientific partners and a spatial information business incubator as well as to increase the number of technical and scientific spatial information training sessions for regional stakeholders. 
  • Facility: A satellite receiving station, equipped with an initial SPOT 6-7 receiving terminal at Irstea's Montpellier site and operated with IRD. 
  • A framework agreement with Airbus. To guarantee access to the new SPOT 6-7 very high resolution spatial image service, a telemetry framework agreement was signed between the public research organizations and Airbus Defense & Space on June 18, 2015. 
  • Website to receive and process requests

A new satellite imaging service

This is a first in Europe! From now on, public stakeholders and scientists will have free or low cost access to very high resolution satellite images. 
These images produced by SPOT 6-7 satellites provide the best technological solutions as they areSpot 6-7 Satellite
  • very high resolution (pixel size)
  • highly accurate (ground dimensions for images) 
  • regularly updated (temporal repetition of captures)
  • consistent with precise commands (ability to be programmed and flexibility)
In addition, to fix the difficulty of dealing with image processing tools and methods, the service also provides users with a range of solutions:  
  • Free access to generic image processing software
  • Bespoke development of tools [3]
  • Availability of a private provider
  • Training, etc. 
The target audience is ready. The service now has over 350 subscribers [4] and over 100 public stakeholders have recently downloaded images released from the 2014 national coverage of France, including ROM COM. In 2016 the range of satellite imaging products will be expanded for public stakeholders and scientists with the free provision of future images from European Sentinel 2 [5] satellites. 
Additional licenses will make it possible for public stakeholders, scientists and small companies, for their R&D needs, to benefit from simplified access to images and the programming capabilities of the receiving station for bespoke acquisition of new images.
Although public research is currently able to provide such an attractive offer, Jean-Marc Bournigal, president of Irstea and consortium agent, warns: "Research has mobilized to start the process and has gone as far as it can. We will have to work with users and regional stakeholders to find ways of making this generally interesting sector sustainable."
For further information:
  • The TETIS research unit
  • The THEIA Land Data Center
  • The GeoSud (GEOinformation for SUstainable Development) website

[1] GEOSUD: GEOinformation for SUstainable Development: National infrastructure for free satellite imaging for research on the environment and land use and for application in management and public policies that brings together 13 partner institutions: AgroParisTech, CETE Sud-Ouest, CINES, Cirad, CNRS, IGN, IRD, Irstea, University of Montpellier, University of the French West Indies and Guiana, and University of Reunion Island.

 [2] THEIA: Satellite data infrastructure for the scientific community that brings together nine French public organizations involved in earth observation and environmental sciences: CEA, CIRAD, CNES, IGN, INRA, CNRS, IRD, Irstea, Météo France

 [3] These developments will be influenced by the types of needs, the scientific and operational maturity of the methods and the financial resources available. 

 [4]  The subscribing organizations include regional governments, decentralized government departments, research laboratories, etc. A complete list is available on the Geosud website

 [5] Built by Airbus Defense and Space, the first will be sent in to orbit on June 22, 2015.