Pléiades 1A was launched on December 17th 2011 and Pléiades 1B on December 2nd 2012. Together they are twin satellites developed by CNES (the French space agency).
Pléiades is the optical part of the French-Italian ORFEO system, which intends to fulfill the civil and military needs in the field of very high resolution optical and radar imagery.
The Pléiades satellites orbit the Earth at an altitude of 694 km. They are equipped with a high resolution optical instrument that can take panchromatic images with a 70 cm resolution, which is afterwards resampled to 50 cm, and multispectral images in 4 bands (blue, green, red and near infrared) with a resolution of 2,8 m, which is resampled to 2 m. The fusion of both modes results in color images with a 50 cm resolution.
Both satellites work on the same orbit, 180° apart, resulting in a revisit time of 24 hours for any place on Earth.
Since June 2012 the Pléiades products are generally available through the commercial circuit that has been set up by Airbus Defence and Space GeoInformation Services (previously called Spot Image/Astrium).
The acquired data can be used for a variety of applications in many fields: cartography, urbanisation, agriculture, forestry, geology, hydrology, marine, earth sciences, resource management, land use, risk management.
In accordance with government guidelines and in compliance with the constraints of the Franco-Italian agreement, cooperation on the Pleiades optical component was established with Austria, Spain, Sweden and Belgium. In continuation of the cooperation with France in the SPOT programme, Belgium takes care of 4 percent of the cost of Pléiades.
In return, Belgium receives a right on programming and archive access equivalent to its participation in the development of the Pléiades Programme. The programming and archive advantages are along the same line as those for the SPOT system.
Belgium, represented by the Belgian Science Policy, can therefore under certain conditions offer a certain quota of Pléiades images at reduced prices to institutional Belgian users. Prices correspond to the production cost. The granted price list will be sent to any authorized Belgian user upon simple request.
On top of that, all the Pléiades images acquired by these users are stored in this portal and made freely available to other authorized users from three months after their acquisition onwards.