A New Chapter in the Belgian Success Story Proba-V

Launched on May 7th 2013 from Kourou, ESA’s vegetation watcher Proba-V is to bow out of its global operational duties on June 30th 2020.

This small spacecraft “made in Belgium” and fully equipped with SPACEBEL software – on-board software, ground control centre and satellite simulator – has monitored our planet for 7 years to deliver a daily vision of the vegetation on Earth with increased spatial resolution.

Originally conceived for a two-year mission lifetime, Proba-V was meant to ensure the continuation of the ‘Vegetation’ images taken by the instruments on board of the French SPOT-4 and SPOT-5 satellites pending the arrival of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite.

Due to its extended lifetime, Proba-V’s orbit parameters have changed little by little, which over time has lead to night-time rather than daylight observation thus compromising the daily delivery of global coverage data. Correction of the orbit degradation is excluded as the spacecraft is not equipped with on-board propulsion. Hence the decision to bring its global mission to an end.

However, the Proba-V story has a sequel. As the miniature observatory is still in excellent condition in terms of radiometric and geometric performance, it will be used until October 30th 2021 for experimental monitoring over Europe and Africa, particularly the Sahel to provide early drought alerts. Moreover, Proba-V will increase its lunar observations, experimenting with changing frequencies and view angles for the benefit of future Earth monitoring missions. Co-observations with future companion small satellites will also be part of its new adventure.

The Proba (Project for On-Board Autonomy) family is still growing with the upcoming Proba-3 Sun watcher, the world’s first precision formation flying mission composed of two satellites flying tandem to study the solar corona. For many years, SPACEBEL has been bringing our expertise to the new technology demonstrator with he software design, development, production, integration and validation of the on-board software for both Proba-3 platforms, the satellite simulators, the control centre and mission centre.

Published June 30th, 2020