In addition to 250 satellite images which the European Space Agency made available to Air France in 2007, ESA has provided more than 1,200...

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Air France have extended their four-year collaboration to let passengers on many of the airline’s flights see the features of hundreds of areas over which Air France aircraft are flying, even when the weather is cloudy.

As seen on the in-flight Geovision program on Air France passengers' in-flight entertainment system screens, this ESA satellite photograph shows northern France and the Benelux countries, with the English Channel at lower left and the bulges of East Anglia and Kent, respectively, at the upper and lower left of the image

Satellite images on the passengers’ in-flight entertainment system screens show the landscapes below, in cloudless or near-cloudless weather.


Among the images passengers can see (depending on which flight they are traveling) are the crystal waters of the Andaman Islands while en route to Singapore; the snaking Senegal River after taking off from Dakar; and the rolling dunes of the Gobi Desert before landing in Beijing.

This is an ESA satellite image of the Alps, with Lake Geneva in the bottom center of the photograph and the Alps extending through Switzerland into Austria. Lake Zurich is near the center of the photograph and Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake, at bottom right

In addition to 250 satellite images which ESA made available to Air France in 2007, the space agency has provided more than 1,200 new images to incorporate into Air France’s in-flight Geovision program, which displays satellite views that link to the route on passengers’ onboard screens.

The scenes have been selected by ESA from various Earth observation satellites, including ESA’s Envisat and Proba, Korea’s Kompsat and France’s Spot.

This NASA/USGS satellite image shows Ethiopia's mountains, deserts and plains

“This collaboration offers a unique opportunity for passengers to experience Earth’s vast beauty and even get an up-close look at some of the untouched areas of the world,” said Volker Liebig, ESA’s director of Earth observation programmes.

This ESA satellite photograph shows the Sebkha de Ndhramcha region of Mauritania in western Africa. Sebkha de Ndhramcha is a coastal salt flat north of the country's capital Nouakchott and west of the western edge of the Sahara Desert

“While we recognise the immense importance that Earth-observing satellites have in advancing the understanding of our planet and its environment, these images allow us to appreciate the aesthetic aspects of Earth observation,” adds Liebig.

For eastbound destinations from Paris, 628 new images have been added. These include the mouth of the Ganges River emptying into the Bay of Bengal and the 3,776-meter (12,388-foot) peak of Mount Fuji in Japan.

This vividly colored ESA image shows the vast Murzuq Sand Sea, or Erg Idehan Murzuq, in Libya. The Murzuq San Sea contains huge lines of 'draa', or dune networks, with smooth sand basins between the lines of dunes

Passengers on flights heading west can – for the first time – enjoy the show of 390 images, which include the Canary Islands and Canada’s shallow Foxe Basin.

The route on southbound destinations can be followed thanks to 367 new images, which cover landscapes such as the vast Sahara Desert and Mount Kenya.

This NASA/USGS satellite photo shows the delta of the Masokoenja River in Madagascar, an area where several endangered and critically endangered bird species reside or spend the winter

“Air France seeks to make each client’s journey a special moment for leisure and discovery,” says Christian Herzog, senior vice president marketing for Air France-KLM. “The images of the world that we offer on board our long haul flights, thanks to ESA, contribute to the journey’s magic.”

This ESA satellite image shows the large Delta of Madagascar's Betsiboka River, which is 525 kilometers (326 miles) long and flows in a northwesterly direction to empty into Bombetoka Bay. The image clearly shows the red-colored water for which the river is known, the red color being caused by river sediments. Much of this silt is deposited at the mouth of the river or in the bay

The collaboration began in 2007 when ESA initially made available 250 images on flights operating between France and India, China, Japan and Singapore. Today, the show is accessible on some 70 flights covering Asia, North and South America, Africa and Oceania.

This NASA/USGS satellite photograph shows the large island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. An overseas department of France, Réunion is located about 200 kilometers (120 miles) southwest of the larger island of Mauritius. Clearly visible at the eastern side of the island is the shield volcano of Piton de la Fournaise, which has erupted more than 100 times since 1640 and remains very active. To the northwest lies Piton des Neiges, an extinct volcano whose summit at 3,070 metres (10,070 ft) above sea level represents the highest point on the island

ESA and Air France are looking into extending the service by generating complete destination coverage and, as a next step, adding visual flight animations to the Air France portal.