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Kanopus-V 1 (Kanopus-Vulkan N1, Environmental Satellite)

Spacecraft     Launch    Mission Status     Sensor Complement    References

Kanopus-V (also spelling of Canopus-V N1) is an Earth observation minisatellite mission of the Russian Space Agency, Roskosmos and ROSHYDROMET/Planeta. The overall objective is to monitor Earth's surface, the atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetosphere to detect and study the probability of strong earthquake occurrence. The requirements call for:

• Monitoring of man-made and natural emergencies including natural disasters and hydrometeorological phenomena

• Mapping

• Detection of forest fire seats, large environmental pollutant emissions

• Recording of abnormal phenomena to study the possibility of earthquake prediction

• Monitoring of agriculture, water and coastal resources

• Land use

• Highly operational observation of specified regions of the Earth's surface.



The spacecraft contract of Roskosmos was awarded to FSUE (Federal State Unitary Enterprise) NPP VNIIEM of Moscow. VNIIEM in turn chose to work with SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.) because of the company's established reputation and considerable experience in building small satellites. A contract to this effect was signed in March 2007. 1) 2)

Under the subcontract, SSTL is supplying three suites of satellite avionics and software plus system design support, power management and batteries, on board computers and data handling capabilities for satellite subsystems and satellite operations. SSTL will also support spacecraft assembly and integration activities in Russia. 3)


Figure 1: Illustration of the deployed Kanopus-V minisatellite (image credit: VNIIEM)

Kanopus-V provides a body-pointing capability in the cross-track direction to permit event monitoring. The spacecraft has a launch mass of ~ 450 kg and a design life of 5 years.


Figure 2: Alternate view of the deployed Kanopus-V spacecraft (image credit: VNIIEM)


Figure 3: Photo of the Kanopus-V spacecraft (image credit: VNIIEM)

RF communications: X-band (8.2 GHz) downlink of payload data, data rate of 300 Mbit/s, onboard data storage of 24 GB.



Figure 4: Photo of the Soyuz-FG Fregat payloads prior to launch (image credit: Roskosmos)


Launch: The Kanopus-V-N 1 spacecraft was launched on July 22, 2012 on a Soyuz FG/Fregat vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The launch provider was Starsem. 4) 5) 6)

Note: The last launch date for Kanopus-V was scheduled for September 2011. However, the Soyuz launch vehicle experienced a failure on August 24, 2011, carrying a Progress M-12M capsule filled with supplies for the ISS (International Space Station). This event resulted in a failure investigation and in a follow-up delay of all planned Soyuz launches.

Secondary payloads on this flight are:

• Belka-2 (Belarusian space apparatus-2), also referred to as BKA, a minisatellite of Belarus (NASRB) with a mass of ~ 400 kg

• TET-1 (Technologie Erprobungs Träger-1), a technology probe of DLR, Germany with a mass of 120 kg

• Zond-PP, a microsatellite of IRE (Institute of Radiotechnology and Electronics), Moscow, Russia for technology demonstrations.

• exactView-1 (formerly ADS-1B) a communication microsatellite with a mass of 100 kg (AIS applications) of exactEarth (COM DEV), Canada. SSTL acted for exactEarth as launch agent in collaboration with Commercial Space technologies (CST) in Russia.

Orbit: Sun-synchronous near-circular orbit on ascending node, altitude = 510 km, inclination = 97.8º, period = 98 minutes, repeat cycle = 17 days.

Kanopus-V, Belka-2 and TET-1 were released into an orbit of ~ 510 km. Afterwards, Fregat had to maneuver to a higher ~800 km orbit to deploy Zond-PP and the exactView-1 payloads. All satellites were successfully deployed and Fregat made a deorbit maneuver.


Mission status:

• The Kanopus-V1 spacecraft and its payload are operational in early 2017 (5th year on orbit). 7)


Figure 5: KANOPUS-V1 MSS image of Formentera Island, Balearic islands, Spain, acquired on 1 February 2017 (image credit: NTs OMZ)

Legend to Figure 5: The main island of Formentera is 19 km long and is located about 6 km south of Ibiza in the Mediterranean Sea.


Figure 6: Kanopus-V1 PSS image of La Savina, Balearic islands, Spain, acquired on 1 February 2017 (image credit: NTs OMZ)

• The Kanopus-V1 spacecraft and its payload are operational in May 2015. 8)


Figure 7: Kanopus-V1 PSS pansharpened image of Moscow, Russia, acquired on May 06, 2015 (image credit: NTs OMZ)

• The Kanopus-V1 spacecraft and its payload are operational in August 2013. 9)


Figure 8: Kanopus-V1 image of Nakhodka, Russia, observed on August 12, 2013, a combined image of PSS and MSS instruments (image credit: NTs OMZ)

• In January 2013, the Kanopus-V No 1 imaging spacecraft had successfully entered the operational phase of its mission following its launch in July 2012. This was announced on Jan. 29. 2013 by Roskosmos, the Russian Space Agency. 10) 11)


Figure 9: Kanopus-V1 MSS image of Santiago de Chile observed on January 22, 2013 (image credit: NTs OMZ)

• In August 2012, Kanopus-V has taken its first imagery of the Earth's surface. The satellite is still operating in "trial mode," but the quality of the imagery is "reassuring." 12)



Sensor complement: (PSS, MSS, MSU-200)

PSS (Panchromatic Imaging System):

PSS is a prototype instrument with the objective to provide panchromatic imagery for environmental monitoring, agriculture and forestry.

The imager provides high resolution imagery of 2.5 m on a swath of 20 km. The spectral range is 0.5 - 0.8 µm.

MSS (Multispectral Imaging System):

MSS is a prototype instrument with the objective is to provide multispectral imagery of land and coastal surfaces and ice cover.

The instrument provides a spatial resolution of 12 m on a swath of 20 km. Four spectral bands are provided: 0.5 - 0.6 µm; 0.6 - 0.7 µm; 0.7 - 0.8 µm; 0.8 - 0.9 µm.


PSS (Panchromatic Imaging System)

MSS(Multispectral Imaging System)

Spectral bands




0.52-0.85 µm


MS (Multispectral) bands


0.54-0.60, 0.63-0.69, 0.69-0.72, 0.75-0.86 µm

Focal length

1797.5 mm

359.5 mm

Relative hole






Matrix size, pixels

1920 x 985

1920 x 985

Swath width (nadir)

23.3 km

20.1 km

GSD (Ground Sample Distance)

2.1 m

10.5 m

Data quantization

12 bit

12 bit

Table 1: Main characteristics of the panchromatic and multispectral sensors 13)

MSU-200 (Multispectral Scanner Unit):

MSU-200 is a prototype instrument with the objective to provide imagery of land and sea surfaces and ice cover. The spatial resolution is 25 m on a swath of 250 km. The spectral coverage is 0.54 - 0.86 µm.


1) "Russia Places Order With SSTL For Satellite Platform Equipment," Space Daily, March 28, 2007, URL:

2) Vladimir Gecha, Elena Kanunnikova, Igor Pugach, "VNIIEM (All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Electromechanics)," URL:

3) "SSTL Delivers On Russian KANOPUS Missions," March 10, 2009, Space Daily, URL:

4) "Soyuz FG Launch Updates - July 2012," Spaceflight 101, July 22, 2012, URL:

5) "SSTL announces the successful launch of exactView-1," SSTL, July 22, 2012, URL:

6) CEOS Handbook, URL:

7) "Images from Kanopus-V1 Spacecraft," NTs OMZ (Research Center for Earth Operative Monitoring), February 2, 2017, URL:

8) Images from Kanopus-V1 Spacecraft (May 2015)," .NTs OMZ (Research Center for Earth Operative Monitoring), May 13, 2015, URL:


10) Anatoly Zak, "Kanopus-V declared operational," Jan. 29, 2013, URL:

11) "Images from KANOPUS-V1 Spacecraft (21.01.2013 - 27.01.2013)," URL :

12) "Remote Sensing Satellite Sends First Earth Imagery," Space Daily, Sept. 3, 2012, URL:

13) V. V. Nekrasov a, E. Makusheva, "Satellite Canopus-V Image Processing Technology Development for Cartography Purposes Based on Prelaunch Simulation," Proceedings of the 22nd Congress of ISPRS (International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing), Melbourne, Australia, Aug. 25 - Sept. 1, 2012, International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XXXIX-B4, 2012, URL:

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (

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