This is the first global map of vegetation produced by the European Space Agency’s recently launched Proba-V, demonstrating that the mini-satellite is on track to continue a 15-year legacy of global vegetation monitoring from space. Proba-V is designed to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire planet every two days. The data can also be used for day-by-day tracking of extreme weather, alerting authorities to crop failures, monitoring inland water resources and tracing the steady spread of deserts and deforestation.
Slightly larger than a washing machine, the miniature satellite was launched from French Guiana in the early hours of 7 May. Just over a week later, its Vegetation imager was switched on in time to capture its first image over France’s west coast, along the Bay of Biscay. While still being commissioned, the satellite continued to acquire images that have since been stitched together to provide the mission’s first, uncalibrated map of global vegetation.
The commissioning phase includes a careful cross-calibration of the Vegetation imager with the previous generation of the instrument, operating on France’s Spot-5 satellite, to ensure data compatibility.
The Spot-Vegetation mission, flown aboard both the Spot-4 and Spot-5 satellites, marked 15 years of service in May, but will come to an end after Proba-V takes over later this year.
Proba-V will also bridge the gap in vegetation monitoring between Spot-Vegetation and the future Sentinel-3 mission, being developed for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme.