The TerraSAR and TanDEM-X Mission: Disaster aid and 3D maps of the earthFrom research conducted at the German Aerospace Center (DLR)
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.
Media about the subject
DLR Webcast in German
- Earth Observation Center - For Earth into Space
- The German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD)
- Missions: Earth Observation
- TerraSAR-X - Germany's radar eye in space
- TanDEM-X - the Earth in three dimensions
- Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI)
- Microwaves and Radar Institute
- TerraSAR-X satellite data reveals destruction caused by tsunami in Japan
- TanDEM-X ready for routine operations in 2011