Remote Sensing


The Swedish National Space Board is responsible for research and development activities within the area of earth observation in Sweden. The funding includes financial support to research groups, to companies that deal with methods and technique development and to users of remote sensing techniques.

Earth Observation satellites

Earth Observation is one of Swedens top priorities within space and Sweden has participated in all ESA earth observation programmes so far. 

Sweden participates in the SPOT programme together with France and Belgium. SPOT is a high-resolution space optical imaging system. The SPOT programme was initiated in 1977 and it consists of a series of Earth Observation satellites. The first satellite, SPOT 1, was launched in February 1986 and the last one, SPOT 5, was launched in May 2002. Important applications of SPOT imagery lie within the areas of forestry, agriculture, mineral exploration, local and regional planning, environmental monitoring, navigation, production of maps for developing countries, etc. A full coverage of Sweden consisting of mainly SPOT data is produced every year and is available free of charge for everybody in Sweden over Internet in the database Saccess.

Sweden is also one of the partners in the Vegetation programme. The Vegetation instrument has been developed to perform the continuous, regional and global tracking of the continental biosphere and crops and it is placed on board SPOT 4 and SPOT 5. The instrument provides daily coverage of the entire globe accurate to about 1 km. Data from the Vegetation instrument can be found free of charge on Internet.    

The Swedish satellite Odin was launched in February 2001. Odin is half an earth observation satellite. It actually combines two scientific disciplines on a single spacecraft. It has an astronomy mission, to study star formation and early solar system. It also has an aeronomy mission, to study the mechanisms behind the depletion of the ozone layer and the effects of global warming.

Remote sensing research

SNSB supports a number of Swedish research groups that work with remote sensing. The research is carried out within areas such as forestry, global monitoring, climate change, meteorology, geodesy and atmospheric physics. At the moment global monitoring and activities linked to the European initiative GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) have high priority. 

Swedish remote sensing users

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) have significantly contributed to the development of forecasting services by using and processing data from both polar and geostationary weather satellites. Today remote sensing data is not only used by the meteorologists making weather forecasts at SMHI, it is also used for example in oceanography, hydrology and to control which way icebreakers should go. SMHI is the Swedish representative in EUMETSAT.

Forest resource inventory is another major remote sensing application in Sweden. Sweden is a country that is dominated by forestland, about 55% of the land area is covered by forest (227 000 km2). Forestry is an important part of our economy. The Swedish National Board of Forestry is one of the major remote sensing users in Europe. They actually use satellite data on each of their 100 local offices. The data is used for change detection. For example they can check if felling is done according to what the owners of the forests have reported to the board.

Space and the Artic Workshop, 20-21 October 2009.

Last updated: 23 March 2017