Urban growth has had increasingly significant socioeconomic and environmental impacts at local, regional and global scales (Berry, 1990). Urban areas are characterised by a large variety of artificial and natural surface materials, influencing ecological (Arnold and Gibbons, 1996), climatic and energy conditions. Therefore, there is a clearly need to have available Earth Observation systems suitable to monitor the dynamics of urbanization and the subsequent impacts on the local, regional, and global environment.

For the urban planning application, it is noteworthy to quantify how urban areas through city-buildings could modify the ecosystems and the dominant land-cover classes occurring in a region.

PRISMA could have excellent potential to map and characterize urban areas and surroundings. PRISMA has the capability to identify and discriminate different urban materials (higher spectral separability) pertaining to pervious and impervious surfaces as well as natural surfaces like Non-Photosynthetic Vegetation and Green Vegetation (i.e. trees, lawn), up to plant genus or species including the different types of soils. PRISMA shows a good potential for mapping complex urban landscapes because of the combination of the spatial and spectral resolution with a high spectral accuracy also in combination with high spatial resolution PAN imagery

 Venice historical center classification performed by using multispectral and hyperspectral (both airborne and spaceborne) earth observation data.


PRISMA data has been potentially explored for the detection of some material of interest. Among them, particular interest was put on the recognition of the deterioration status of the asbestos (Fig. 2) in building materials (e.g., asbestos-cement tiles coverages), because of its multiple harmful effects on human health.

An example of the deterioration status assessment obtained for the absestos-cement  roofs as derived by airborne hyperspectral data set (MIVIS) on two Italian sites (a) Follonica and (b) Rimini. The three levels of deterioration status of the absestos-cement  roofs, low-medium-high, are depicted respectively in blue (up to 8.8%), yellow (from 8.8% to 10.0%) and red colours (greater than 10%).


Chrysotile asbestos fibres, in particular, show a peculiar absorption feature centred at 2.32 μm, and PRISMA sensitivity to this feature in the SWIR range was explored.


[1]     Arnold, C.L.J. and C.J. Gibbons, 1996. Impervious surface coverage: The emergence of a key environmental indicator. Journal of the American Planning Association, 62(2): 243!258.

[2]     Berry, B.L., 1990. Urbanization. In: The Earth as Transformed by Human Action. Turner. B.L.et al.,

[3]     (Eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp: 103-119.