PRISMA (Hyperspectral Precursor of the Application Mission) is the first European satellite with a hyperspectral instrument and panchromatic camera on board. It was developed for the Italian Space Agency (ASI) by a consortium with OHB Italia as Prime Contractor, integrated in Milan facility and successfully launched on a Vega rocket in 2019 from the Kourou Spaceport in French Guyana.
Now PRISMA (800 kg of mass) is in orbit at over 600km of elevation, travelling at 27.000 kilometers per hour, consuming a little more energy than a laptop and capturing images of Italy from the Alps to Sicily in less than 4 minutes.
PRISMA is acquiring, downloading, processing and delivering fundamental optical Earth surface images (in the range from 400 to 2500 nanometres, hence beyond infrared level) for monitoring our Planet. Its Imaging Capacity is 200.000sq km/day on 240 spectral bands instead of the usual 10! Since April 2020 free access to the system has made available to the Users Community an average of five thousand spot images per month.
The satellite will be operational for 5 years and its data are providing a crucial contribution to science for Earth Observation. It involves the capability to scan not only the geometric features but also the chemical-physical components in the targets of interest. Each material has its own spectral signature, a true fingerprint: a unique combination of colours (spectral bands) similar to a signature. PRISMA is therefore not only identifying objects from space but also investigating the nature and the characteristics of what is observed.
PRISMA gave Italy the real opportunity to study the Globe like never before. Its hyperspectral ‘eyes’ (the highest electromagnetic spectrum analysis capability with optical sensors ever implemented at international level) are able to see chemical / physical composition of the underground and of the atmosphere; air and marine pollution; the level of hydrocarbons, plastics, microalgae not yet visible to the human eye; the effects of anthropic activities; climatic and environment changes; asbestos’ hidden deposits and illegal dumps; hydrogeological and volcanic activity; agricultural and forest resources; the monitoring of historical and cultural heritage.