ORFEO Research Programme

Support Programme for the use of Optical and Radar Federated Earth Observation data (ORFEO)



Duration of the research: 2004 - 2009
Budget: 1.200.000 EUR
Projects: 6


The ORFEO Support Programme has been set up to prepare for support and promote the exploitation of the images from the ORFEO sensors.

The ORFEO Support Programme has two sections, between which strong interaction needs to be maintained:

  • The methodology section’s objective is to define and develop the tools needed for the operational exploitation of the future sub-metric optical and radar images;
  • The thematic section covers a wide range of applications (civil and military) and aims to specify and validate value-added products and services needed by users.


Belgian involvement in the French Earth observation programme Pleiades is in two parts in order to meet industrial interests, the need to have continuous access to very high resolution satellite data and the need to prepare future users for data from the ORFEO system. It is a dual system with metric resolution. France is in charge of developing the optical component Pleiades, and Italy, the radar component operating in the X band, COSMO-Skymed.

The industrial activities supported by Belgium as part of the PLEIADES programme will amount to 4% of the whole programme. Belgium supports the ORFEO programme for the 2004-2009 period at the time of 1.2 million EUR.

The methodology section: the subjects dealt with in this section will mainly concentrate on three-dimensional aspects, detection of changes, texture analysis, shape recognition, and the complementary nature of optical and radar images. This section is being developed mainly through R&D studies and doctoral and post-doctoral research.

The thematic section: this section also includes reflection on how to integrate these products into current operational systems and on the intermediary structures that will need to be put in place to serve non "autonomous" users. This section is also involved in raising awareness amongst future users (mainly institutions), through some feasibility studies that demonstrate and validate various different, concrete cases.
The themes are:

  • Sea and Shore
  • Risks and Humanitarian Aid
  • Cartography and Land Management
  • Geology and Geophysics
  • Hydrology
  • Forests
  • Agriculture