[Venµs news] Distribution of Level2A has started

You might have noticed the apparition of the first Venµs L2A products on Theia web site within the real time production, since last Friday.  A first global processing will start this summer, to provide you with the data acquired from November until now. There will be probably further reprocessings to benefit from the fine tuning of all the parameters and to propagate the further evolution of Level 1 improvement.

Even if it took us a few months to check the software and set the parameters up, what took us very long... was waiting for the level 1 validation and calibration phase. As you know, our colleagues from CNES did a great work to rescue the Venµs raw data which were full of surprises. They started to provide us with calibrated products in April only, and that's when we started the validation.


We were quite happy with the first results, as our processor MAJA did not show any bug, and the first images looked good.  But the first validation results were quite poor, with undetected thin clouds, with biases in the estimates of atmospheric properties (Aerosol, water vapour), as well as biases in reflectances (with a lot of negative values). We then started iterating tests on the parameters, and after several iterations we corrected several errors in the parameters (Venµs band numbers are different from those of Sentinel-2, and in a couple of cases, I forgot to change them:( ), and we tuned better all the thresholds. Among those, we had to change the calibration of band 910 band by 6% (this band is hard to calibrate in flight due to the presence of water vapour and is also affected by some newly discovered stray light).



The following table compares the results we had initially, on the left, and the results obtained after tuning the parameters, on the right. Of course, what we distribute is on the right ! We will of course need to increase the number of validation points, and we expect that the low level stray light in band 910 that was discovered during the commissioning phase and is not yet corrected will introduce some site related bias in the water vapour estimates. We will therefore need a reprocessing after this defect has been fixed, if the Level 1 team finds a way to fix it. And finally, we have still some issues to solve with the shadows mask which can often be quite poor.



Before tuning After Tuning

RGB Quicklook with cloud mask contour

RGB Quicklook with cloud mask contour

Water vapour in g/cm2 compared with Aeronet

Water vapour in g/cm2 compared with Aeronet

Aerosol Optical Thickness compared with Aeronet (sorry for the scale different from that on the right)

Aerosol Optical Thickness compared with Aeronet (sorry for the scale different from that on the left)

[Venµs News] L1C processor upgraded to V1.0



Until V0.9, only a small proportion of Venµs L1C data were available at L1C level on Theia's website: 888 products only in 2 months.

Until V0.9, only a small proportion of Venµs L1C data were available at L1C level on Theia's website. Now, with the version V1.0, a greater proportion of products will be distributed to users, but we advise users to check their geometric quality in the metadata, as explained below.


Distribution of V1.0 products should start very soon !


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Venµs captured the orange snow in the Pyrenees

Theia just published the first Venµs images today, including a beautiful view of the Pyrenees. Once you have dezipped/untared/unzipped the files you can make a true color composite using the command:

gdal_translate -b 7 -b 4 -b 3 -scale 0 300 0 255 -ot byte VE_VM01_VSC_PDTIMG_L1VALD_ES_LTERA_20180419.DBL.TIF myColorCompo.tif

I tend to focus on the snow so I stretched the colors between reflectances 0-1000 instead of 0-300:

gdal_translate -b 7 -b 4 -b 3 -scale 0 1000 0 255 -ot byte VE_VM01_VSC_PDTIMG_L1VALD_ES_LTERA_20180419.DBL.TIF mySnowColorCompo.tif

First, I was a bit puzzled by the orange shade in the northern part of the image. We inspected carefully the image with Olivier because at this stage radiometric calibration issues are still possible..
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Theia started the distribution of Venµs products in Near Real Time

Great news for our little Venµs satellite project: Theia has started distributing Venµs L1C data in near real time. The data acquired yesterday are already available on https://theia.cnes.fr



These L1C products are tagged with 0.9 version, which means that their quality is not as good as what we think we will be able to deliver in a couple of months. The multi-spectral and multi-temporal registration can still be improved, even if it is not too far from our expectations yet in most cases. The image quality teams are finishing an error budget of the current situation, and also preparing the improvement with our Israeli partner who manage the satellite.  We will tell you about that.


The L2A delivery will also start in a few weeks, but the L1C teams, who had much more work than expected with this satellite, handled us correct products very late, and we still need to tune a few parameters to provide good quality products.


On the Theia website, you will find several ways to download the tiles. My little download tool has also been updated. Once you have registered, and updated the config.cfg file, you will be able to download at once all the products in Australia with the following command line :

python theia_download.py -l 'Australia' -c VENUS -a config.cfg -d 2018-01-01

The data format is explained here. Its packaging with useless zips and tars is still provisional and will be simplified very soon.



First delivery of Venµs images

A first set of 35 images (L1C) is available for download on the following CNES web site:



Venµs is now systematically acquiring data on all selected sites since January 2018, although a few The Delta of Ebroacquisitions were missed from time to time for various technical reasons, which should become progressively less frequent.


The commissioning phase of the Venµs mission is not yet completed regarding image quality (radiometry and geometry). This delay is due to several issues, the most important of which are detailed hereafter. However, since these issues do not prevent the use of the data, CNES decided to process and distribute a first set of 35 Level-1 (L1) images for which the radiometric and geometric qualities are acceptable. Level 1 corresponds to orthorectified Top of the Atmosphere reflectances. This preliminary data set is intended to allow the users to familiarize with the data and their format.


These 35 images are only a subset of the data that are systematically acquired over the Venµs sites since January 2018. We plan to start the distribution of these L1 Venµs time series by April 2018. We expect to start the distribution of the Level-2 products (surface reflectances) by late May or beginning of June, 2018.



Main issues


  1. The absolute calibrations of the spectral bands B1 (415 nm) and B2 (440 nm), both located in the blue, are less accurate than the calibration of the other spectral bands. This issue prevents the use of B1 and B2 for retrieving the aerosol optical depth (AOD) or for water color applications.
  2. The accuracy of the satellite attitude restitution is for now lower than expected. Due to the fact that the different bands are not acquired simultaneously this has mainly impacts on the inter-band registration. For some sites with heavy cloud cover or uniform landscape, this issue also impacts the multi-temporal registration.


The characterization of radiometric and geometric performances is still ongoing. Efforts are also devoted to the improvement of the preprocessing algorithms.

As soon as significant progresses are made, the whole data set acquired since January 2018 will be reprocessed with the new parameters and algorithms.

The product format document is available here. A more complete version will soon be made available there.


The Venµs page on the Theia web site will keep you informed on the progress made.


Time series of Venµs images acquired over Oklahoma (USA) and processed at level 2A (with a first try of atmospheric effects correction applied)






Venµs mission status, 5 months after launch

Hereafter some news on the status of the Venµs mission.

Venµs was successfully launched from the Kourou space port on August 1st by a VEGA launcher:




First images were acquired by mid-August (see below for examples). The commissioning phase is still running. This phase consists in checking the whole system, including the satellite, the camera, the download of the images and data to the Kiruna receiving station, the ground processing chains, as well as the geometric and radiometric calibrations. All these components are in a good health and working well. However, given the very demanding requirements in terms of multitemporal registration, more work than anticipated is needed to fine tune the AOCS (Attitude and Orbital Control Subsystem) and the processing algorithms. In addition, the first part of the in-flight demonstration of the electric engine developed by RAFAEL (called IHET) will take place from mid-december to mid-january.


For these reasons, CNES and ISA plan to resume the systematic acquisitions of the scientific sites early 2018. Preparing the reference images for every site and checking the quality of time series will also take some weeks. We anticipate delivering the Level 1 (top of the atmosphere reflectances, orthorectified) products by april 2018, but all the data acquired from the beginning of systematic acquisitions will be processed and made available on the Theia web site:



Level 2 data (top of the canopy reflectances) might be available slightly later since the method we use requires a time series of data.

You will find some examples of images following the links below :



and here:






The Moon is also acquired for calibration monitoring purposes:



We thank you for your patience. We are doing our best to provide you with quality products.

Happy New Year to you all

Venµs à l'honneur en Haute-Garonne et en Ariège en 2018

Le satellite Franco-Israelien Venµs, attendu depuis si longtemps, a été lancé le 2 août 2017. 110 sites dans le monde vont être observés en 2018 et 2019 à 10 m de résolution et avec 12 bandes spectrales. Alors que la plupart des sites ne correspondent qu’à l’emprise d’une scène Venµs (27 à 32 km de large (est-ouest) * 27 km nord-sud), le site ‘Toulousain’ couvre un transect de 168 km du nord de la Haute-Garonne (Grenade) jusqu’en Espagne, en passant par les Pyrénées ariégeoises (dont le Mont Vallier), prolongé par un 2ème transect de 157 km de long en Espagne jusqu’à l’embouchure de l’Ebre (carte en ligne).


L’intérêt d’avoir choisi un si grand transect est la grande diversité des conditions pédo-climatiques due au relief varié de la zone, des types de cultures et de végétation et enfin de pratiques humaines de gestion (type d’agriculture, d’élevage…), sur un nombre de kilomètres assez restreint. Ce transect Venµs permettra ainsi d’étudier de nombreux agro-écosystèmes différents.

Le transect Venµs, de Toulouse à l'espagne.

L’intérêt majeur de la mission scientifique Venµs est d’offrir une très forte revisite temporelle : chaque site sera observé tous les 2 jours. En combinant les données de Venµs avec celles de Landsat 8 et Sentinel-2, la revisite sera presque quotidienne. Au niveau scientifique, il s’agit de préparer les futures missions spatiales opérationnelles et de démontrer l’intérêt d’une fréquence temporelle très élevée. Au niveau thématique, ces 2 années 2018 et 2019 vont permettre de suivre finement les évolutions rapides des phénomènes naturels comme les variations du manteau neigeux, la croissance des cultures, les stades phénologiques des diverses végétations (forêts, prairies, cultures, autres milieux naturels), etc… Pour être pleinement valorisés, ces sujets nécessiteront des observations de terrain de qualité sur ces deux années 2018 et 2019. Nous faisons donc acte d’information, voire d’appel à volontaires, pour collecter des données de terrain pertinentes. Ci-dessous, nous listons les principaux sujets déjà prévus ou potentiels, pour chacune des 2 grandes zones géographiques du transect ; ainsi que les principaux acteurs pré-identifiés.


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Venµs' moon


Well, the audience of our blog is still steady increasing, there is no need to use explicit titles to get more connexions. And although I mainly use space to look down, I do not think the planet has a natural satellite. So why this title ?

The Venµs satellite actually showed us the moon, and not only to provide a nice title in this blog. Our Israeli colleagues from MBT really worked hard to obtain it, as a very good pointing accuracy is needed to image it from a quickly rotating satellite : the moon is far from here !

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Quand Venµs nous montre la lune


Non, non, la fréquentation de ce blog n'est pas en baisse au point qu'il nous faille attirer une nouvelle clientèle pour compenser une perte de revenus financiers issus de la publicité. (La fréquentation augmente régulièrement d'ailleurs, mais les revenus financiers sont nuls...)

Le satellite Venµs nous a vraiment montré la lune, et ce n'est pas seulement pour proposer une belle image et un titre accrocheur sur le blog du CESBIO. Nos collègues israéliens de MBT se sont d'ailleurs donné beaucoup de peine pour l'obtenir, car il faut une très bonne précision de pointage pour l'observer : la lune est loin !

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The Delta of the Ebro seen by Venμs


The Delta of Ebro

Delta of the Ebro observed by Venμs on August 18, 2017 (Copyright CNES 2017)

The Ebro (Iberus in Latin) flows into the Mediterranean in Catalonia after a journey of more than 900 km from its source in Cantabria. The current morphology of the Delta results from the significant increase in sediment inputs caused in the 15th century by the intensive deforestation of the river catchment: the conquest of the Americas required the construction of boats. It was at this time that the land emerged over the sea, making the delta this wide plain of which only 10% of the land culminates at more than 2 meters. The construction since 1930 of 187 upstream dams reduces the sediment flow (from 28 Mt / year to about 0.1 Mt / year), which partly explains the erosion currently observed in some parts of the delta.


80% of the area of ​​the delta is devoted to crops, mostly rice producing one-third of the country's production. The rest, protected by the Natural Park, consists of lagoons, reed and rush beds,  brackish marshes and sandbanks.


The Delta de l'Ebre is included in one of the sites that will be observed by Venμs every two days for two and a half years. It is part of ClimaDat, a long-term climate research network. Different issues will be adressed: land use, phenology, greenhouse gas fluxes (CO2, CH4, N2O), vegetation productivity, role of saline inputs.


Complement: the evolution of the Ebro delta from the 4th century: