Pleiades honored by the « Académie de l’Air et de l’Espace »
On Friday November 27th 2015, the « Académie de l’Air et de l’Espace » awarded a special distinction in recognition of the Pleiades Earth observation program. Jean-Philippe Fayret, instrument program director at Thales Alenia Space, was involved in the program from 2000 to 2007, overseeing the design, conception and integration of the optical payloads for the two satellites.
The Pleiades satellites, on behalf of the French space agency CNES, are France’s first dual-use observation satellites, designed to meet the wide-ranging needs of civil and military users, including mapping, urban development, hydrology, geophysics and vulcanology. The Pleiades 1A and 1B satellites were successfully launched in 2011 and 2012. Thales Alenia Space was responsible for 45% of the satellites under a contract awarded by Airbus Defense and Space, program prime contractor.
Focus on the instrument
The Pleiades satellites feature an optical instrument with an aperture of 65 cm, built by Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, providing color views in the visible and near-infrared bands, with a very high resolution of 70 cm and a swath width of 20 km. Offering very high performances, the instrument is much smaller than previous onboard optical instruments, thanks to a new technology based on highly integrated detection subassemblies, combined with an ultra-stable carbon composite structure and Zerodur mirrors.
“The Pleiades instrument took nearly 10 years to develop and is performing even better than expected, leading to renewed interest in very-high-resolution optical observation,” says Jean-Philippe Fayret.