Proba-V, a small satellite-based earth observation system for vegetation studies, developed by QinetiQ Space for the European Space Agency (ESA), has been launched from Kourou, French Guiana.

During the five year mission, the miniature Earth-observer will enable vegetation visibility for a number of institutions and the ability to build applications to study agriculture and crop growth, deforestation, vegetation change, as well as the impact of climate change.

Although smaller than a cubic metre, the satellite also carries a pair of radiation sensors, a fibre optic connector experiment, a prototype radio transmitter based on the semiconductor gallium nitride, and a test receiver to track global aircraft movement. Proba-V will be the world’s first space mission to detect Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast signals from aircraft, building up a global overview of air traffic.

Leo Quinn, Chief Executive at QinetiQ, said: “This is another landmark achievement for the QinetiQ Space Team and after four years of work we are extremely proud to see the launch of this highly innovative minisatellite. The Proba-V mission highlights QinetiQ Space’s end-to-end mission capabilities, from technology development to management of the flight segment, and we look forward to seeing the satellites achievements in support of ESA in due course.”