Thales Alenia Space is a leader in Earth observation, based on its high or very-high resolution optical and radar payloads. We have established a position as a major supplier in export markets, covering military, dual and civilian missions: intelligence gathering, target designation, mapping, crisis management, meteorology, oceanography, climatology, etc.

High-resolution optical and radar systems

Thales Group - Earth-Observer Optical


Thales Alenia Space is:
  • The exclusive supplier, for the last 30 years, of all high and very-high-resolution optical instruments for French intelligence satellites (Helios, Pleiades, CSO families).
  • Prime contractor for the Italian dual radar observation system, Cosmo-SkyMed, a constellation of four satellites, which is considered one of the world's most advanced and reliable systems of this type. In 2014, the Italian space agency ASI awarded Thales Alenia Space a new round of financing for the new-generation Cosmo-SkyMed program, comprising two radar Earth observation satellites.
  • Prime contractor for France's only export high-resolution observation satellite, especially the Gokturk system for the Turkish defense ministry.
  • The European expert in high-resolution radar imaging, including the supply of electronics for the radar instruments on the five satellites in the SAR-Lupe constellation, which provides high-resolution images of the Earth to the German defense ministry. Thales Alenia Space also made similar instruments for the Kompsat 5 satellite, operated by the South Korean space agency.
  • Expert in very-high-resolution optical instruments. We have expanded our integration facilities in this sector, and also launched a new product, Earth-Observer Optical, to meet the needs of a booming global market, as shown by the Falcon Eye contract for the United Arab Emirates. 

Meteorology and environment

Thales Group - MTG

For the last three decades, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Eumetsat have made Thales Alenia Space the prime contractor for Europe's meteorological satellites (three generations of Meteosat satellites), as well as for dedicated environmental missions within the scope of the vast Copernicus program, or for space-based altimetry, a sector in which our radars set the global standard for monitoring of oceans and ice. Thales Alenia Space will also build the new SWOT oceanographic satellite for French space agency CNES, to study the topography of oceans and continental surface water.

Thales Group - SWOT


In oceanography, Thales Alenia Space has already built:
  • The Poseidon altimeters for the Topex-Poseidon, Jason 1, 2 and 3 missions, on behalf of CNES and NASA;
  • AltiKa, the Ka-band altimeter for the French-Indian oceanographic satellite, Saral;
  • The Siral very-high-resolution interferometry altimeter for ESA's CryoSat satellite, capable of measuring changes in the thickness of continental or maritime ice with unrivalled precision;
  • The "water color" optical instruments, MERIS and OLCI, now on-board Sentinel-3.