PRISMA (PRecursore IperSpettrale della Missione Applicativa/HyperSpectral Precursor of the Application Mission) is a programme-funded by Italian Space Agency (ASI) and represents a global excellence, which highlights the capacity of Italy to provide a turnkey space system, from design to construction, from launching to ground data management.

From its orbit, at an altitude of about 620 kilometres, PRISMA satellite observes the Earth on a global scale with different eyes, being equipped with innovative electro-optical instrumentation.  The Italian satellite will look at the planet with the most powerful operative hyperspectral instrument in the world, able to work in numerous, narrow and contiguous bands arranged from the visible to the near infrared (VNIR, Visible and Near InfraRed) and up to the infrared shortwave (SWIR, Short Wave InfraRed).

PRISMA was developed by a Temporary Joint Venture of companies, led by OHB Italia, responsible for the mission and management of the three main segments (ground, flight and launch) and Leonardo, which built the electro-optical hyperspectral instrumentation in addition to on-board equipment such as solar panels and power supply unit.

PRISMA was launched on March 22, 2019, by Arianespace, on board a VEGA carrier, designed and conceived by AVIO, that took off from the European space base in Kourou (French Guiana). 

On February 2022, Italian Space Agency has awarded a feasibility study for PRISMA Second Generation satellite to a temporary group of companies led by Thales Alenia Space, which joins forces with Telespazio, e-GEOS, Leonardo and SITAEL.

Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for the design of the end-to-end system and the new satellite, while Leonardo will be in charge of the new PRISMA Second Generation hyperspectral payload.

Telespazio’s role

For the PRISMA programme Telespazio set up the Ground Segment, and managed the LEOP phase, that runs from when the satellite separates from the carrier, until it reaches its final orbit position, as well as in-orbit testing.  The Ground Segment includes the mission control centre, which is located at the Fucino Space Centre, and the data acquisition, processing, and distribution centre in Matera.

For the Second Generation mission, Telespazio will design the ground segment of the mission, programme, particularly the system requirements and architecture.

e-GEOS, a company owned by Telespazio (80%) and ASI (20%), will be responsible for analysing the market scenarios in which PRISMA will be operating, and will assist Leonardo in defining users’ requirements.

The Mission

The mission will be able to offer an unprecedented contribution to the observation of natural resources from space and to the study of main environmental processes (e.g. interactions between atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere; observation of environmental and climate change on a global level; and the effects of man’s activities on ecosystems). 

At an application level, PRISMA will be able to provide precious information to support prevention of natural hazards (such as hydrogeological) and anthropic (including soil pollution), monitoring of cultural heritage, aid actions to humanitarian crises, agricultural activities and exploitation of mineral resources.