Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space’s satellites qualified by the European Union within the framework of CAP

• SPOT 6 has successfully passed all tests conducted by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission's in-house science service, and has been contributing to the MARS-CAP programme since 1 July

• MARS-CAP is the European programme surveying agricultural land by satellite within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

• SPOT 6 joins three other Airbus Defence and Space Services-operated satellites already qualified for this programme: SPOT 5, Pléiades 1A and Pléiades 1B

18 July 2013 – SPOT 6, the high-resolution Earth observation satellite designed, built and operated by Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company, has now been qualified by the JRC to take part in the MARS-CAP programme. MARS-CAP is a programme run by the European Commission which involves surveying agricultural land by satellite, as part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Following qualification, SPOT 6 joined the other Airbus Defence and Space-operated satellites, SPOT 5, Pléiades 1A and Pléiades 1B, on the programme on 1 July, as part of the 2013 MARS-CAP campaign. Initiated by the European Union in 1993, the MARS-CAP campaigns involve mapping agricultural land throughout Europe to verify declarations relating to cultivated land areas and fallow land submitted by farmers. The European subsidies granted to farmers are based on these declarations and their verification.

Airbus Defence and Space has been working alongside the European Commission for 20 years to help implement the Common Agricultural Policy,” said Evert Dudok, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. “With these newly-qualified satellites, the constellation operated by Airbus Defence and Space will now provide a significantly greater volume of images. Pléiades, SPOT 6 and soon, SPOT 7 will cover a surface area of up to 7 million square km per day, which is almost twice the surface area of the entire European Union!”

In less than a year, the JRC qualified the three new satellites operated by Airbus Defence and Space for MARS-CAP. SPOT 6, Pléiades 1A and Pléiades 1B are now contributing to the MARS-CAP programme campaigns. This new-generation satellite constellation considerably boosts the image acquisition rate, despite the very specific demands of agricultural sector customers (the image acquisition schedule is extremely precise but sometimes requires last-minute changes, especially due to weather conditions). The satellites’ agility enabling flexibility and reactivity means they can provide an unprecedented level of performance even when programming schedules are updated several times a day as a result of weather forecasts.

SPOT 6 brings new performance levels to the MARS-CAP programme, including heightened resolution (1.5 metre), the blue spectral band (to acquire images directly in natural colours), enhanced localisation of images and unequalled agility, enabling extensive areas to be mapped in record time.

Pléiades 1A has been in use since November 2012 and Pléiades 1B since May 2013. Very high-resolution acquisitions are particularly useful for smaller and denser plots. At the end of June 2013, 94% of requested surface areas had already been acquired.

Previously, the SPOT 4 and SPOT 5 satellites had provided almost all of the images requested by the European Union each year.

Download the Pléiades image in high resolution from the Airbus Defence and Space GEO-Information FTP:


About Airbus Defence and Space

Together, pioneering excellence

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.

In 2012, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Airbus Defence and Space, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Airbus Defence and Space, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.

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