HRC - High Resolution Camera

OIP designed and developed, as a subcontractor to Verhaert Space [B], a black & white high resolution camera with a miniaturised Cassegrain telescope and a sensor module developed by CSEM [CH].

The HRC instrument is taking 25km square images of the earth to a resolution of 5 – 10m. The HRC was primarily intended for technology, educational and general public information purposes.

The HRC was successfully launched on the PROBA I mission in 2001 and is still capturing images.


Proba-1 is a technology demonstrator turned operational Earth observation mission – ESA’s smallest, less than a cubic meter in volume. One of the two Proba-1’s main instruments is the High Resolution Camera (HRC), acquiring 25 square km images with a high spatial resolution of 5m.



Solution: Camera

Type: High Resolution Camera

Application field: Earth observation – Space Webcam

Mission: PROBA-1

Life: Operational (launch 2001)

High Resolution Camera

The HRC was primarily intended for technology, educational and general public information purposes by taking images of Earth locations.

Capturing Mother Earth in square images

HRC is a black and white camera with a miniaturised telescope (2.1kg). With a high spatial resolution of five meters, HRC can acquire images with an area of 25 square kilometers. As well as studying the Earth, the spacecraft also returns data on its own immediate environment.

The telescope is of Cassegrain type with an aperture size of 115 mm and a focal length of 2296mm.

The HRC has a field of view of 0.358 degrees, and from the current orbit of Proba-1 of about 600km the HRC provides images with a pixel resolution of 8m. The data are grey scale images, an image contains 1026 x 1026 pixels. HRC data is supplied in BMP format.


The Project for On-Board Autonomy (Proba) is a technology demonstration mission of the European Space Agency, funded within the frame of ESA’s General Support Technology Programme (GSTP). It is managed by ESA’s Control and Data Systems Division within the Department of Electrical Engineering, part of the Directorate for Technical and Operational Support at ESA/ESTEC.

The objectives of Proba-1 are:

  • in-orbit demonstration and evaluation of new hardware and software spacecraft technologies
  • in-orbit demonstration and evaluation of onboard operational autonomy
  • in-orbit trial and demonstration of Earth observation and space environment instruments

The PROBA spacecraft was launched on October 22nd, 2001 on the PSLV-C3 launcher from SHAR (ISRO Sriharikota Range, the ISRO launch site on the East Coast of India). (ISRO Indian Space Research Organization) with destination the LEO Sun-synchronous elliptical polar orbit (perigee= 542 km, apogee=657 km, inclination 97.9°, period 96.97 minutes and LTDN 10:30).

OIP’s Participation

OIP, as a subcontractor to Verhaert Space (B) (now QinetiQ Space), was responsible for the design and development of the HRC, using a camera of CSEM (CH).


Primarily planned as a technology demonstrator, Proba-1 turned into an operational Earth observation mission. Originally designed for a two-year mission, the first ESA mini-satellite is after 14 years still operating now as an Earth Observation Third Party Mission.

After almost 2 decades in orbit, ESA’s Proba-1 is showing its age but surpassing its design lifetime ten-fold, the veteran Earth-observing microsatellite is still in full operation and producing nice images.
Instrument was designed for 2 year mission life. Mission lasts till today. Instrument performs flawlessly. The HRC has deserved its flight stars after such a nice campaign.

Users of the Proba-1 satellite to date include:
• more than 60 Earth observation Principal Investigators from scientific institutes within Europe
• space weather and space debris scientific communities
• EduProba (Belgian schools and universities)


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