Vegetation Instrument (PROBA-V)

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Global vegetation monitoring

The PROBA-V Vegetation payload is a multispectral spectrometer with a very large swath of 2250 km to guarantee daily coverage above 35° latitude. The payload consists of 3 spectral imagers with each a very compact TMA telescope. Each TMA, having a FOV of 34°, contains 4 spectral bands: 3 bands in the visible range and one band in the SWIR spectral range. The ground resolution of the instrument was specified to be at least 1000m; in the visual spectrum it even reaches a ground resolution of 100m Nadir.


V for Vegetation

The ‘V’ in Proba-V stands for vegetation. The imager spans a 2250 km field of view and collects light in the blue, red, near-infrared and midinfrared wavebands, ideal for monitoring plant and forest growth as well as inland water bodies.


Vegetation Instrument characteristics

Spectral Bands

Blue (438 – 486 nm) / Red (615 – 696 nm)

NIR (772 – 914 nm) / SWIR (1564 – 1634 nm)

FOV / Swath

102,6° / 2250 km


VNIR: 100m Nadir – 360m edge of swath

SWIR: 200m Nadir – 685 edge of swath


1/3 km and 1 km for VNIR

2/3 km and 1 km for SWIR

SNR at L2

Blue => 502 @ L2=111W/m².sr.µm

Red => 597 @ L2=110W/m².sr.µm

NIR => 611 @ L2=106W/m².sr.µm

SWIR => 405 @ L2=20W/m².sr.µm




800 x 600 x 300 mm³




21W average, 41W peak

Data rate

41 Mbit/s


PROBA-V is an Earth observation mission for global Vegetation Monitoring that will provide data continuity for Vegetation monitoring after SPOT-Végétation missions reach end-of-life (in 2014 after more than 15 years) and before Sentinel-3 mission becomes operational (launch foreseen in February 2016).

PROBA-V was endorsed by the Belgian Government in order to ensure continued global monitoring of vegetation. In order to avoid a gap in this monitoring, funding for the full development of the PROBA-V mission was provided by BELSPO to ESA in 2010.

The PROBA-V Vegetation Instrument is developed with the following constraints:

         > To be developed and launched in extremely short time frame (4 years)
         > Fitting the small PROBA-V satellite platform
> Meeting the stringent SPOT Végétation performance (1km data product)
         > Exceeding this performance by providing a 1/3km data product covering the entire Earth every two days
         > Providing an additional 100m data product covering the entire Earth every 10 days.


PROBA-V was launched in 2013, allowing for performance comparison with SPOT-Végétation till 2014, and takes over its operational role within ESA’s GMES programme (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) by providing the scientific community and a significant number of operational data users a complete composite of Earth’s land cover every two days.

A remote sensing mission for global Vegetation monitoring. To provide multispectral images to study the natural evolution of vegetation in continuation of the VEGETATION instrument on board SPOT-4 and SPOT-5. Gapfiller mission between SPOT-5 (EoL 2012) and Sentinel 3.


OIP Sensor Systems, industrial prime contractor for the payload, was responsible for the design, development, testing and calibration of the vegetation instrument, with following main subcontractors:

  • XenICs (SWIR detector development) (Leuven, B),

  • DSI GmbH (Data Handling Unit development) (Bremen, D),

  • AMOS (telescope manufacturing) (Liège, B) and

  • CSL (calibration/testing) (Liège, B).


OIP participated in A/B/C/D phases.


PROBA-V was launched from ELA-1 at Guiana Space Centre on board the second launch of the Vega rocket VV02 on 7 May 2013 together with the Vietnamese VNREDSat 1A satellite, and Estonia's first satellite, ESTCube-1. The launch will mark the first test of the new Vespa dual-payload adapter; PROBA-V will ride in the upper position of the Vespa adapter, and VNREDSat 1A will sit in the lower position.

Launch date

7 May 2013


Launch site

Europe’s Spaceport

Guiana Space Center, Kourou, French Guiana


Vega VV02





Platform (P/F)

PROBA small platform bus

P/F contractor

QinetiQ Space (Kruibeke, B)

Mission lifetime

2.5 years

(possible extension to five years)


Sun-synchronous polar orbit, 98.73° inclination at 820 km altitude


Daily latitude coverage from 75°N to 35°N and -35°S to -56°S, full coverage every two days


The usable lifetime of PROBA-V highly depended on the local time of the descending node LTDN. Given that PROBA-V has no onboard propulsion, the natural drift of this LTDN depends on the satellites' in orbit injection accuracy. Based on the injection accuracy specifications of the VEGA launcher, a usable lifetime between 2.5 and 5 years was predicted. A nearly perfect injection was realized bringing thus PROBA-V mission to the longest lifetime estimate.

The phase B was kicked-off early 2009 with a PDR. The CDR took place in March 2010. 2.5 years later the instrument was integrated onto the satellite and accepted by the Customer (September 2012). 9 months later, on May 7, 2013 at 04:06 AM Belgian time Arianespace successfully launched the second Vega rocket VV02 from the Guiana Space Center. The VV02 made a perfect flight to bring the PROBA-V satellite in its intended orbit!

On May 15, 2013 at 13:26 Belgian time the Vegetation Instrument was switched ON successfully from ESA’s Redu Ground Station [Redu, B]. The first image data was downlinked to Redu less than 2 hours after switch-on. The Vegetation Instrument had successfully opened its eyes to the Earth .. An extensive and flawless commissioning campaign of 5 months was performed by the PROBA-V team, resulting in the start of the operational mission in December 2013.

Now, with more than 2 years of operational life on the counter, PROBA-V is delivering data around the clock and fulfilling its role as gapfiller to best performance possible. Sentinel-3 launch is planned for February 2016.

OIP Sensor Systems, together with its partners and QinetiQ Space, succeeded in delivering a payload as performant as SPOT-Végétation in less than 4 years.

The PROBA-V instrument development started beginning 2009, and was launched in May 2013. Project was performed for ESA and funded by Belgium’s Belgian Federal Science Policy Office  BELSPO. VITO (Mol, Belgium) is the Principal Investigator and QinetiQ Space (Kruibeke, Belgium) is the mission prime.


Principal Investigator

VITO environmental research centre, Boerentang, Mol, Belgium

User Segment designer

VITO environmental research centre, Mol, Belgium

Prime Contractor P/F

QinetiQ Space, Kruibeke, Belgium

Prime Contractor P/L

OIP Sensor Systems, Oudenaarde, Belgium

ESA Project

ESA D-TEC and Quality Management, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

ESA EO Programme

Earth Observation Programmes




ESA website Proba (link)
QinetiQ Space website (link)
BELSPO website (link)
Earth Observation portal (link)

ESA Proba-V website (link)
Launch preparation diary from Kourou (link)
VITO Proba-V website (proba-V Data) (link

Press releases 
Proba-V opens its 'eyes' on the Earth (link

Official photo (to be added)
VEGETATION INSTRUMENT leaflet (to be added) 

ESA Website
QS Website
Information about Belgian Space Policy w.r.t. Earth Observation
Earth Observation – Portal directory
E2V (Grenoble, France).
Pre-launch phase: started early March 2013 and can be followed on the ESA Website.
The shipment of Proba-V to Kourou got Belgian Press attention and made the news.
The final preparations by the OIP team at the launch site were documented in ESA’s launch diary, which can be checked at the ESA Website.
Mission page on ESA website
Arianespace website
Proba-V is seated for flight

© ESA – Proba-V integrated on VESPA prior to encapsulation in the fairing.

Proba-V opens its 'eyes' on earth surface