as seen by the SPOT 5 satellite in 2002
SPOT (French: Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre, lit. "Satellite for observation of Earth") is a commercial high-resolution optical imaging Earth observation satellite system operating from space. It is run by Spot Image, based in Toulouse, France. It was initiated by the CNES (Centre national d'études spatiales – the French space agency) in the 1970s and was developed in association with the SSTC (Belgian scientific, technical and cultural services) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB). It has been designed to improve the knowledge and management of the Earth by exploring the Earth's resources, detecting and forecasting phenomena involving climatology and oceanography, and monitoring human activities and natural phenomena. The SPOT system includes a series of satellites and ground control resources for satellite control and programming, image production, and distribution. Earlier satellites were launched using the European Space Agency's Ariane 2, 3, and 4 rockets, while SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 were launched by the Indian PSLV.