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Defence and Space

Airbus Logo

Defence and Space

Airbus Logo

Defence and Space


Pléiades, 10 Years of Successful Collections Already!



The success of Pléiades is the result of a historic cooperation between CNES and Airbus Intelligence, which began more than 35 years ago with the launch of the SPOT 1 satellite, the first in a long series, and the creation of Spot Image.

  • Thanks to continuous institutional investments since the 1980s, France has developed a network of excellence in the strategic field of optical observation of the Earth from space.
  • The collective work of French and European engineers has led to the completion of exceptional projects such as those in the SPOT and Pléiades sector.
  • Today, this industry still pioneers innovation. Earth Observation remains strategic, but for several years has taken on a commercial dimension, both for the sale of images and the sale of satellites for export: the Pléiades Neo family, financed exclusively from private funds, is part of this strategy.
  • The Pléiades Neo satellites, the first two of which were launched in April and August 2021, partly inherit the technology from the first Pléiades satellites launched by CNES 10 years ago. Like their predecessor, they have exceptional acquisition capacity and agility, but with twice the resolution.


What is the role of CNES today with Pléiades Neo?



The CNES supports excellence in Earth observation through an R&D effort, by bringing innovative programs to the institutional level and by supporting the French space industry so that it wins in maturity.


Airbus Intelligence called on the expertise of CNES for the radiometric flight acceptance and in-flight monitoring of Pléiades Neo, in order to guarantee its users a quality calibration. This expertise was also used for the SPOT and Pléiades satellites.


  • 10 years of operation of Pléiades 1A and 1B results
  • More than 20,000 programming plans (of shots) sent to the satellites by the CNES control center
  • And over 1.6 billion km² acquired since the launch.
  • A network of 12 direct reception stations, 150 partners in 77 countries and more than 2000 direct customers
  • Great agility of satellites offering 5 acquisition scenarios
  • Daily revisit capacity
  • Unprecedented reactivity allowing the acquisition of targets or large covers in record time and to meet needs from crisis management to land use planning, mapping, and related applications. Environment,climate change and more.
  • The stage after Pléiades Neo is the 3D Earth Observation constellation, CO3D, whose 4 satellites will be launched from the Guyanese Space Center, Europe's spaceport, in 2023.
  • CO3D, co-financed by industry and public authorities while the previous institutional systems were related to asset purchases, opens a new avenue of cooperation between CNES and French industrialists allowing the French observation sector to pave the way towards “Next Space”.

The historic collaboration between CNES and Airbus Intelligence has also strengthened through various programs and partnerships

The International Charter for Space and Major Disasters, created in November 2000 by ESA and CNES, with the aim of providing satellite images in order to help and support humanitarian efforts during emergencies caused by major disasters. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, free of charge. The Pléiades satellites offer unfailing support for the Charter since in recent years, around 40% of the damage maps have been produced from data acquired by the Pléiades satellites.

DINAMIS, the National Institutional System for the Mutualized Supply of Satellite Imagery is a platform for the acquisition and dissemination of Earth observation spatial data dedicated to institutional users. Its objective is to facilitate access and develop the public use of spatial data, for the purposes of research and development, spatial planning and development, environmental monitoring and management, and innovation and creation of added value. DINAMIS is a unique tool for accessing high and very high resolution Pléiades and SPOT 6/7 images, available in archive and in programming mode.

Discover 10 of the best Pléiades acquisitions over the years

10 years since the launch of Pléiades

On December 17, 2011, CNES launched the Pléiades-1A satellite from Kourou, six months later, Airbus became the commercial operator. On the occasion of this birthdays, receive representative space application images for 10 days, today, one of the first images of Pléiades, the Wadi Rum valley in Jordan.

Wadi Rum Desert Valley, Jordan, Pléiades February 26th 2012

10 years of Pléiades, Disaster Management

On October 2nd, 2020, storm Alex over France caused a torrential flooding of the Vesubie river devastating the banks of several cities as Roquebillière. Pléiades is involved in the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters and in the European program Copernicus Emergency.

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Floods of the Vesubie in Roquebillière, France, October 13th, 2020

10 years of Pléiades years of Pléiades, Maritime Surveillance

On March 23th, 2021, the container ship Even Given stucks its 400m length diagonally in the Suez Canal, blocking global maritime transport for six days and causing an increase in oil prices. The Pléiades image is involved in the preparation for the beaching.

Blocking of the Suez Canal by the Ever-Given Pléiades March 23th, 2021

10 years of Pléiades, Forest Management

To meet the demands of non-deforestation and changes in palm oil cultivation practices, the satellite image provides regular, precise and intangible certification on the sustainability of palm farms and on the tropical forests to be protected.

Palm Oil Plantations, Indonesia Pléiades July 23th, 2018

10 years of Pléiades, Health and Emergency Medicine

In February 2020, a makeshift 1,000-bed hospital was built in 10 days in Wuhan to relieve other health centers from the influx of patients caused by coronavirus. Pléiades made it possible to monitor this project from a distance.

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Construction of the first Covid-19 hospital in Wuhan, China Pléiades, 2019-2020
10 years of Pléiades, Activity Measurement

The resolution and the daily repeatability of Pléiades on the same site makes it possible to measure human activity by detecting the number of transport vehicles, planes, cars or ships, to provide economic and environmental information as here in Venice during confinement of Covid-19.

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Venice during Covid-19, Italy Pléiades 2018 - 2020
10 years of Pléiades, Civil Engineering

Monitoring the construction of the protective roof after the Notre Dame de Paris fire is an example of an application for civil engineering or for development sites by providing information on the progress and organization of the work.

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The protective roof of Notre Dame de Paris, France Pléiades, 2020-2021
10 years of Pléiades, Land Use

The satellite image provides information on the natural, landscape, human and economic constraints during the construction of equipment or land use planning, but also for the monitoring of these sites. The Lighthouse of Whales on the Ile de Ré in France is at the crossroads of issues: maritime, tourist and climatic risks on the coastline.

Lighthouse of the Whales, Ile de Ré, France Pléiades September 19th, 2012
10 years of Pléiades, Natural Heritage

The intensification of the problems surrounding biodiversity and climate change places Pléiades at the heart of the new challenges facing humanity. Satellite surveillance of classified sites as the Iguazu Falls helps maintain a balance between tourist attractions and preservation of ecosystems.

Iguazu Falls, Brazil - Argentina Pléiades, June 14th, 2016
10 years of Pléiades, Agriculture

Agricultural statistics, harvest forecasts, precision agriculture, there are many agri-environmental applications of Pléiades. But also more astonishing for the cosmetics industry, with the detection of algae which color pink or rust, the salt marshes of Camargue.

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Salt marshes of Camargue, France - Pléiades September 9th, 2020

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