France will release archived SPOT data to public

The French government has announced to release free of charge satellite images from its Spot optical Earth Observation data archive as part of the country’s contribution to the Global Earth Observation system of Systems (GEOSS).

The French Space Agency CNES made this decision with the approval of Airbus Defense and Space which commercializes Spot data. CNES has already begun processing a first tranche of 100.000 images and will make them available later this year. The released images will be at least fives years old and with resolutions not higher than 10 meters.

“We had a long debate with our colleagues at Airbus, and this is the result we came to,” Steven Hosford, Head of the Earth Observation data access plan at CNES explains. “It meets our objective of making the data available for global change studies, while acknowledging the interest we all have in the sustainability of a [commercial] Earth observation sector.”

Without the free-distribution policy the older Spot images would have remained unused. Once available, users will have access to the library of images after signing license agreements restricting the imagery’s use to research.