SPOT Vegetation

contributed by Jeffrey Gillan

Other Names:

SPOT Vegetation

Agency/Company Operating the Sensor

Commercially operated by the Spot Image Corporation
Data distributed by Vito (Belgium)


The SPOT program is a series of Earth observing satellites launched by the French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), in cooperation with Belgium and Sweden. Since 1986, five SPOT satellites have been launched and three are still currently operational. The SPOT Vegetation sensor is carried aboard SPOT 4 and 5 which were launched in 1998 and 2002, respectively. The sensor has a very large ifov (1.15 km) and is designed to monitor the Earth on regional and continental scales. It has the capability of imaging the entire Earth each day. It is particularly valuable for studying agriculture, deforestation, and other vegetation changes on a broad scale.

There are currently two Vegetation instruments on Spot satellites: Vegetation 1 (located in SPOT 4 Satellite) and Vegetation 2 (located in SPOT 5 satellite). SPOT Vegetation products are systematically acquired, archived, and available on-line. Some of the products are free and some will carry a cost.


The following products are standard products offered:

  • Single image segments with top of atmosphere reflectance values
  • Global composite color images with 1 and 10 day syntheses
  • Global composite NDVI images with 1 and 10 day syntheses

Similar Sensors

Sensor Specifications

SPOT Vegetation collects data in 4 spectral bands. Bands 2 and 3 are used to calculate the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Band 0 (blue) is strictly used for atmospheric corrections. The sensor has the same bands as the SPOT HRVIR which enables linked studies at multiple scales. SPOT Vegetation images have 8 bit radiometric resolution (0-255).

Spectral Bands/Wavelengths

Spot 4 and 5 Vegetation

Band Resolution Wavelength µm Description
0 1.15km 0.43-0.47 Blue
2 1.15km 0.61-0.68 Red
3 1.15km 0.78-0.89 Near Infrared
SWIR 1.15km 1.58-1.75 Short wave infrared

Image footprint or swath width

2,250 km swath width

Return Interval

SPOT satellites are in a sun synchronous orbit at an altitude of 822 km. Return interval is 1 day for the Vegetation sensor.

Cost, Acquisition, Licensing

Images from 1998 to present are available. All images from the Vegetation sensor have to be ordered from VITO located in Belgium. To access most Vegetation products you have to be a registered user. To become a registered user you have to email

Because SPOT is commercially operated, there are some licensing restrictions regarding image usage and sharing. Please consult with SPOT to get the level of licensing that is appropriate for your research or project.

Free 10-day synthesis products (S10 and D10)
  • Products older than 3 months
  • 10 pre-defined ROI’s
  • Download data directly from the SPOT Vegetation site at
Products at cost
  • All products for scientific use
  • All products for Vegetation program partners
  • Products older than 3 months for all other users
  • Request products by submitting a form to the VEGETATION program:
Fee-based products
  • Products younger than 3 months (except scientific use or Vegetation program partners)
  • Order products through

Image format

SPOT Vegetation products usually come in the Hierarchical data format (HDF). This format can be reprojected or converted into other formats such as GeoTiff, but in the past HDF has been notoriously difficult to work with. Recent versions of ArcGIS (e.g., version 9.3) and image processing software ENVI can read the HDF format. A listing of some other tools that can be used to view and convert HDF images can be found at, but be cautioned that most of these tools are not easy to implement.

Examples of Rangeland Uses

  • Geerken et al. (2005) presents a classification technique of SPOT Vegetation NDVI values in a rangeland environment.
  • Huang and Siegert (2006) used SPOT Vegetation imagery to classify vegetation and detect areas desertification risk in China.
  • Wylie et al. (2004) used SPOT Vegetation NDVI values as a variable for determining gross primary productivity and CO2 in a grassland steppe region of Asia.

Additional Information


  • Geerken, R., B. Zaitchik, and J. P. Evans (2005), Classifying rangeland vegetation type and coverage from NDVI time series using fourier filtered cycle similarity, International Journal of Remote Sensing, Vol. 26, No. 24, pp. 5535-5554.
  • Huang, S. and F. Siegert (2006), Land cover classification to detect areas at risk of desertification in North China based on SPOT Vegetation imagery, Journal of Arid Environments, Vol. 67, Iss. 2, pp. 308-327.
  • Jenson, John R. (2007), Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth resource perspective, second edition, Prentice Hall series in geographic information science, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
  • Wylie, B. K., T. G. Gilmanov, D. A. Johnson, N. Z. Saliendra, K. Akshalov, L. L. Tieszen, B. C. Reed, and E. Laca (2004), Intra-seasonal mapping of CO2 flux in rangelands of northern Kazakhstan at one-kilometer resolution, Environmental Management, Vol. 33, supplement 1.

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