VENµS monitors the resillience of Bouconne forest to caterpillar defoliation


I left you in mid-July with an unbearable suspense: would the Bouconne oak forest, the real lung of the Toulouse conurbation, resist the caterpillar attack of which it was the victim? The gypsy moth is a small butterfly whose voracious caterpillar appreciates oaks. This year, the moth caterpillars have flourished in some areas of the Bouconne forest, to the point where its damage has become visible from 700 km above sea level. Everything was explained in this post at the beginning of July.

But rest assured, our satellites have continued to watch over the forest, and it is with joy that we can see that everything is better, thanks to this beautiful series of images from the Venµs satellite of CNES and the Israeli Space Agency. In these images, we used false colors, and the vegetation appears in red. It is the observation in the near infra-red band that is most sensitive to vegetation strength, and it is this spectral band that appears here in red. On this series, we notice the defoliation effect is most significant in June, on two areas of the forest whose color turns brown, and that from mid-July, the situation improves. In the last image of August 4, there is only a slight difference between the areas attacked in June and the others.


Series of Venµs images in false colors, from May to early August 2019, above the Bouconne forest, west of Toulouse, France. The data are presented in false colors, the near infrared is in red, while the blue and green channels correspond to the blue and green bands. The more vigorous the vegetation, the more red the colour.

Now that the caterpillars have metamorphosed into butterflies that enjoy their summer thinking only about gathering pollen and breeding, the oaks have been able to take advantage of this break to produce new leaves, and start storing reserves for the winter. Experts indicate that in years of moths attacks, which fortunately do not occur every year, the rings on the trunks are tighter, which proves that the attack has an impact on tree growth. If some of these specialists are passing through here, I would like to know why the attacks were concentrated on two bands of the forest, and not on the whole forest. Why did some parts resist better than others? Do we have different tree species, different ages, different soils?

By the way, you can note the large number of clear images available in this series, thanks to the temporal repetitiveness of Venµs, which makes observations every other day. These data have been corrected for atmospheric effects, this is what we call Level 2A products. You can see that the image colours change very slowly with time, without the variations due to the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere. This shows that our treatments, performed with MAJA, work quite well. If you wish to access the data, it is available, free of charge, on


You are now reassured, so I wish you an as good summer as the one enjoyed by the gypsy moths (in their butterfly form)!

[VENµS] La forêt de Bouconne a résisté à l'attaque à la bombyx


Je vous avez laissés à la mi-juillet avec un suspense insoutenable: la forêt de chênes de Bouconne, véritable poumon de l'agglomération de Toulouse, allait-elle résister à l'attaque à la bombyx dont elle était la victime ? Le bombyx disparate est un petit papillon dont la chenille vorace apprécie les chênes, qui cette année a pullulé dans certaines zones de la forêt de Bouconne, au point où ses dégâts sont devenus visibles depuis 700 km d'altitude. Tout était expliqué dans ce billet de début Juillet.


Mais rassurez vous, nos satellites ont continué à veiller sur la forêt, et c'est avec joie que nous pouvons constater que tout va mieux, grâce à cette belle série d'images du satellite Venµs du CNES et de l'agence spatiale Israélienne. Sur ces images, nous avons utilisé des fausses couleurs, et la végétation apparaît en rouge. C'est l'observation dans le proche-infra rouge qui est la plus sensible à la vigueur de la végétation, et c'est cette bande spectrale qui apparaît ici en rouge. Sur cette série, on remarque que c'est en juin que l'effet de défoliation est le plus important, sur deux zones de la forêt dont la couleur tourne au brun, et que dès la mi juillet, la situation s'améliore. Sur la dernière image du 4 août, on ne distingue plus qu'une légère différence entre les zones attaquées en juin et les autres.

Série d'images Venµs en fausses couleurs, de mai à début août 2019, au dessus de la forêt de Bouconne à l'ouest de Toulouse. Les données sont présentées en fausses couleurs, le proche infra rouge est en rouge, alors que les canaux bleu et vert correspondent aux bandes bleues et vertes. Plus la végétation est vigoureuse, plus la couleur est rouge.

Maintenant que les chenilles se sont métamorphosées en papillons qui ne pensent plus qu'à butiner et se reproduire (vivent les vacances !), les chênes ont pu en profiter pour produire de nouvelles feuilles, et commencer à stocker des réserves pour l'hiver. Les spécialistes indiquent que les années d'attaques à la bombyx, qui heureusement n'ont pas lieu tous les ans, les cernes sur les troncs sont plus resserrées, ce qui prouve que l'attaque a un impact sur la croissance des arbres. Si  certains de ces spécialistes passent par ici, j'aimerais bien savoir pourquoi les attaques se sont concentrées sur deux bandes de la forêt, et pas sur toute celle-ci. Pour quelles raison certaines parties ont-elle mieux résisté que d'autres ? Avons nous des espèces d'arbres différents, des ages différents, des sols différents ?


Au passage, vous pouvez noter le grand nombre d'images claires disponibles sur cette série, grâce à la répétitivité temporelle de Venµs, qui fait des observations tous les deux jours. Ces données ont été corrigés des effets atmosphériques, ce sont des produits de niveau 2A. Vous pouvez observer que les  teintes changent très lentement, sans les variations dues à la quantité d'aérosols dans l'atmosphère, ce qui montre que nos traitements, réalisés avec MAJA, fonctionnent bien. Si vous souhaitez accéder aux données, celles-ci sont disponibles, gratuitement, sur


Vous voilà rassurés, vous pouvez donc passer d'aussi bonnes vacances que les bombyx disparates (sous leur forme de papillons) !


Call for experiment ideas for VENµS last phase

The VENµS satellite has two missions, a scientific mission that requires to have the satellite exactly at the same place every second day to make repetitive observations with constant view angles, and a technological payload (IHET, Israeli Hall Effect Thruster) to change the satellite's orbit (that's why there is a blue and a red circle in VENµS's logo). It may sound a bit odd to couple two such missions on a single spacecraft, but anyway we found ways to accommodate them.


The current plans for Venµs Mission (VM) are as follows :

  • VM1 : Venµs scientific mission is supposed to work until Mid 2020 at 720 km altitude, imaging 123 sites with a 2 days repeat cycle
  • VM2 : Venµs altitude is progressively decreased to 410 km using the IHET engine
  • VM3 : low altitude orbit keeping, compensating drag, while continuing to image as a secondary mission at 410 km (which is an orbit with a two days repeat cycle)


The interest of VM2 and VM3 is to show the capacity of the IHET to drastically change the orbit, and to compensate the atmospheric friction on the satellite at 410 km. At 410 km, the Venµs resolution will be close to 2,5m, but will require a rotation of the spacecraft for motion compensation. The viewing capacity of the satellite will therefore be reduced.


But the plans for VM2 and VM3 phases are principles which are going to be detailed and finalized this autumn during a Joint Steering Committee with France and Israel. It is therefore time to receive suggestions and ideas from the community of Venµs users.


We have already had our own ideas, such as :

  • keeping Venµs Satellite on the current orbit for a longer time to allow for a longer  scientific mission
  • select the one day repeat cycle orbit at 560 km altitude instead of two days orbit at 410 km
  • include observations from different viewing angles over a few sites to work on directional effects
  • ...


But the more of us, the more imagination. Please feel free to rack your own minds and to suggest your ideas. Do you remember this experiment that you dreamed to be able to do with a high resolution optical satellite, a few months ago, but were never able to implement ? Maybe VENµS can do it... or maybe not, the only way is to ask us.


Feel free to add a comment here, or to send us an email, before mid August.

Philippe Gamet, Gérard Dedieu, Olivier Hagolle


Observable zones during VM1 phase Observable zones during VM3 phase... if we do not change the current project

Major changes for Venµs data processing

We are about to implement a major change in the ground segment of VENµS. Until now, L1C and L2A products were produced in the Venµs Image Processing (VIP) center, and imported into THEIA catalog. Next week, this will be changed.


L1C products will still be produced by the VIP, but the L2A will be generated by MUSCATE center within Theia. Moreover, it will soon be possible to generate L3A products which are bi-weekly composites of cloud free surface reflectances. And the cherry on the cake, all these products will be delivered at 5m resolution, while the L2A products were only available at 10m resolution.


This change comes with some drawbacks for users : the formats will slightly change to keep homogeneity between all the products distributed by MUSCATE.

  • the metadata format is different, the keywords have changed.
  • the images are still provided with TIFF format, but there is now one file per band. For L2A only, The scaling factor has changed, it is now 10000, as for Sentinel-2.
  • the L2A resolution is now 5m !
  • the grid used corresponds to that of Sentinel-2, you only have to account for the upper left origin of each site to obtain the registration of the images. No reprojection and no resampling is necessary.


These changes will be first applied to the real time processing, but the whole archive will be reprocessed later on.


A description of the new formats is provided in the following references :


During a few days, both versions will coexist in Theia distribution server. The new products contain the "_XS_" string in their filenames, so they are easy to recognise.


[VENµS] Venµs data production currently stalled

As the CNES project team was celebrating the 10 000th orbit of VENµS satellite (without me, I had another meeting at the same time :( ), the exploitation received a bug report: the production of the Venµs Image processing  had stopped.


That was not a coincidence to ruin the joy of the social event, and it was not jealousy from my side, but just the fact that somewhere in the ground segment, the orbit number was coded with 4 digits.

Update 26/06/2019-16h30

The bug has been corrected and production resumed.

Combined exploitation of VENμS, Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8: the spectral bands


The combined use of VENμS, Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 data can increase the likelihood of obtaining cloud-free images or may allow detailed tracking of rapidly evolving phenomena.

In order to facilitate this combination, the table below summarizes the correspondences between the spectral bands of the instruments. VENμS does not have a spectral band in the middle infrared.

The figure below shows the spectral bands of VENμS and Sentinel-2 in the 400 to 1000 nm range. The SWIR bands of Sentinel-2 are not included.The table below shows the usual band combinations

The figure below makes it possible to assess the degree of similarity of the spectral responses of these usual bands.

The detailed spectral responses of each instrument are available via the following web pages:







Exploitation combinée de VENµS, Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 : les bandes spectrales


L’utilisation combinée des données de VENµS, Sentinel-2 et Landsat-8 peut permettre d’augmenter la probabilité d’obtenir des images sans nuage ou de suivre de manière détaillée des phénomènes à évolution rapide.

Afin de faciliter cette combinaison, le tableau ci-dessous présente de manière résumée les correspondances entre les bandes spectrales des instruments. VENµS ne comporte pas de bande spectrale dans le moyen infrarouge.

La figure ci-dessous présente les bandes spectrales de VENµS et Sentinel-2 dans le domaine 400 à 1000 nm. Les bandes SWIR de Sentinel-2 ne sont incluses.Le tableau ci-dessous présente les combinaisons de bandes usuelles

La figure ci-après permet d'apprécier le degré de similarité des réponses spectrales de ces bandes usuelles.

Les réponses spectrales détaillées de chaque instrument sont disponibles via les pages web suivantes :