The hyperspectral technology of the PRISMA satellite

Alessandro Profumo: “This is a flagship Italian programme and world-leading space system.”

19 April 2021

The Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) PRISMA satellite (HyperSpectral Precursor and Application Mission) was the main subject at the ‘Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Workshop 2021: PRISMA Mission and beyond’ held on 13 and 14 April 2021 at the ASI headquarters in Rome. The event’s objective was to take stock of the use of hyperspectral data from space and lay the foundations for a second generation of Earth observation satellites.

Thanks to a new electro-optical instrument, made in Italy and developed by Leonardo, PRISMA scans the Earth at about 200 images per acquisition and breaks down the images into hundreds of colour bands to generate a digital imprint of the substances of the observed surface, collecting fundamental data used to study the environment, climate change and hydrogeological risks.

“PRISMA is a flagship Italian programme and world-leading space system,” said Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo. “The data provided by this satellite allows us to study our planet as never before. Travelling at 27,000km per hour, it analyses the chemical-physical composition of air, land and water, identifying the slightest sign of fragility and providing valuable data for sustainable development.

“PRISMA has the most powerful hyperspectral instruments in the world on-board: a record for Leonardo and our country’s industry, which leads Earth observation radar technology and in geo-information services and applications. This is a strategic infrastructure for Italy, with the launch of second-generation satellites essential to preserving our country’s leading role in a sector of such great economic and geopolitical importance.

“PRISMA is one of the best expressions of the results that can be achieved through a fruitful collaboration between Institutions, large industry, SMEs and the world of research. From design to implementation and from launch to ground data management, this is a global example of Italy’s ability to offer world-leading excellence in a ‘turnkey’ space system. It is testament to how technology can contribute to the security and sustainable progress of our country and our planet.”

PRISMA, launched in March 2019, was built by a Temporary Joint Venture of companies, led by OHB Italy, which is responsible for the mission, and by Leonardo, which, in addition to the electro-optical instrument, also created the solar panel and the star compass that allows satellites to find their way with the stars. For the PRISMA programme, Telespazio set up the Ground Segment while Thales Alenia Space has implemented the data transmission system on board the satellite.