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The TerraSAR and TanDEM-X Mission: Disaster aid and 3D maps of the earth

From research conducted at the German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Karte des überfluteten Higashi-Matsushima-Flughafens bei Sendai

Radarbild des deutschen Erdbeobachtungssatelliten TerraSAR-X vom 12. März 2011 veranschaulicht die Folgen des Tsunamis für den Flughafen an der Ostküste Japans. Die Überflutung ist blau und die zerstörte Infrastruktur ist magentafarben dargestellt. Photo/Graphic: DLR.Read more

Karte des Hafens von Sendai nach dem Tsunami

Die TerraSAR-X-Aufnahme vom 12. März 2011 zeigt, dass der Hafen der japanischen Stadt Sendai stark von den Tsunami-Wellen verwüstet worden ist. Photo/Graphic: DLR.Read more

Höhenprofil der filigranen Landschaft in der Atacama-Wüste von Chile

Neben dem Vulkangebiet der Atacama-Wüste zeigt diese TanDEM-X-Aufnahme die "Salar de Uyuni", die mit insgesamt 10.000 Quadratkilometern Umfang größte Salzpfanne der Welt. Photo/Graphic: DLR.Read more

On 11 March 2011, the east coast of Japan was devastated by a tsunami. Just one day later the first satellite images were available to help emergency services plan their operations.

In order to ensure the images could be produced this quickly, DLR experts reprogrammed the two radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X at short notice and worked around the clock to process the resulting data for damage analysts in Japan. In contrast to data provided by optical satellites, radar data is not affected by cloud cover or the time of day and therefore always delivers clear images of flooded or destroyed areas. The actual goal of the TanDEM-X mission is to produce an elevation profile of the Earth’s surface by 2013 and to provide data for an elevation model that will be unique in the world. The special features of this 3D model will be its homogeneity and an accuracy of better than two metres. But the twin satellites are also capable of providing rapid aid in the case of natural catastrophes by supplying data for detailed maps of the affected areas.


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Dr. Katrin Feuser

Research Field Key Technologies

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 30 206329-20
katrin.feuser (at) helmholtz.de

Communications and Media

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