The PRISMA (Hyperspectral Precursor and Application Mission) satellite is a program of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) that represents excellence at a global level and highlights Italy's ability to provide a turnkey space system, from design to implementation, from launch to ground data management.

From its orbit, at about 615 kilometres of altitude, PRISMA will observe the Earth on a global scale with an innovative electro-optical instrumentation, the most powerful operative hyperspectral instrument in the world. It’s capable of working in numerous, narrow and contiguous bands ranging from the visible to infrared (400 -2500nm).


PRISMA was developed by a Temporary Joint Venture of companies that is led by OHB Italy that is responsible for the mission and for managing the three main segments (land, flight and launch) together with Leonardo which built the electro-optical instrumentation as well as the on-board instrumentation such as the attitude sensors and the solar panel. The launch will take place with ESA’s launcher VEGA that is mostly conceived and manufactured in Italy by AVIO. Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) set up the mission control center, while data acquisition and processing will take place at the Matera Space Centre.

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 the atmosphere, the biosphere and the hydrosphere, observation of environmental and climate changes on a global level; the impact of anthropic activities on ecosystems). Regarding the fields of application, PRISMA will be able to provide valuable information to support prevention of natural (such as hydrogeological) and anthropic (including soil pollution) risks, monitoring of cultural heritage, agricultural activities and exploitation of mineral resources.

Leonardo participates in the programme through its Electronics Division and its joint ventures Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space.



Electronics Division


For the PRISMA program, Leonardo’s Electronics Division in Campi Bisenzio (Florence, Italy) developed the payload. It includes not only a medium-resolution panchromatic camera but also the most powerful hyperspectral instrument operational to-date in the world for Earth observation.

Unlike the multispectral satellite sensors currently in orbit, which record the solar radiation reflected by our planet in a limited number of spectral bands (typically some dozens), the PRISMA instrumentation will be able to acquire approximately 240 bands.

Thanks to the hyperspectral technology not only the shape of the objects can be recognised but also their chemical an physical composition. In fact each material has its own “spectral signature” with an absolutely unique combination of colours, just as if it was a finger-print. These are called spectral bands and each one is characterized by a precise intensity. The hyperspectral instrument that has been produced by Leonardo for PRISMA will be able to acquire and analyse such signature while flying at approximately 615 km from Earth.

PRISMA’s hyperspectral instrument has a heart made of thirty lenses, prisms and mirrors. This sophisticated, indestructible, radiation-resistant and perfectly anti-reflection elements have been produced at Carsoli (L’Aquila, Italy), where Leonardo has a centre of excellence for optical coatings at European level .

Leonardo also developed the Star Tracker attitude sensors in Campi Bisenzio, which will allow to orientate the satellite in space and to point its hyperspectral instrument with high precision to an area of interest on the Earth. In fact this star compass uses its built-in telescope to watch the celestial sphere and compares it with a map of approximately 3,000 stars that is stored inside it. Then it calculates PRISMA’s attitude ten times per second providing the on-board computer with the information that is needed to point it according to the mission plans.

Furthermore, Leonardo produced in Nerviano (Milan, Italy) the solar panel that generates the power to supply the satellite and its equipment, as well as the payload. This solar energy is converted into electricity and an electronic distribution and control unit, that is also designed and produced in Nerviano, delivers it.




For the PRISMA program, Telespazio set up the Ground Segment and has managed the LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase) phase from the satellite’s separation from the launch vehicle up to reaching the final orbital position and the in-orbit test activities. The Ground segment includes the mission control centre at Fucino (L’Aquila, Italy) and the data acquisition, processing and distribution centre in Matera (Italy).


Thales Alenia Space


For the PRISMA programme Thales Alenia Space has implemented the data transmission system on board the satellite, whose design and production involved the plants in Gorgonzola (Milan), L’Aquila and Rome in Italy.

There are no results.
There are no results.