Today, the analysis and use of satellite images is commonplace. Just 15 years ago, however, only a handful of specialists worked with these valuable data. Since then, a particular niche expertise has rapidly developed – the use of satellite data for disaster management.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been actively involved in humanitarian aid for many years. Alongside government partners, the private sector and scientific institutions, DLR is supporting the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) work towards a world with zero hunger.
Earth observation satellites fly at distances of up to several hundred kilometres from Earth and can provide detailed information that assists relief workers on the ground.
On 22 June 2016 at 05:55 CEST, the BIROS (Bi-Spectral Infrared Optical System) microsatellite was successfully launched into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India on board a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Two eyes are better than one; this principle is also true for the two radar satellites that make up the Sentinel-1 mission. On 25 April 2016 at 23:02 CEST, the Sentinel-1B Earth observation satellite lifted off from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana on board a Soyuz launch vehicle.
The earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, the tsunami in Japan in 2011 that was triggered by an undersea earthquake, and the severe floods that, time and again, affect countries such as India and Bangladesh give rise to the question of how Earth observation satellites could help detect and study natural disasters in a more effective way.
A tangle of treetops and branches, through which just the occasional clear area provides glimpses of the trunks and roots growing below. Whether it is woodland with German spruces or a tropical rainforest, very few sensors are able to see through this green carpet and clearly visualise the underlying structures. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is developing radar technology that, for the first time, will enable a three-dimensional visual representation of forest areas from the roots to the crowns.
Whoever wants a glimpse of the future of our climate has to cast his eyes upward. Almost into outer space, up some 100 kilometres, at night. Then the consequences of global warming become rapidly evident. For years the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has been monitoring the temperature of the atmosphere at this altitude and analysing the changes—in order to improve climate models and to detect natural disasters early, like flooding, earthquakes and tsunami. The "base camp" for measurements is Germany‘s highest research station, the Schneefernerhaus Environmental Research Station (UFS) on Zugspitze mountain.
How is the ozone layer changing? What is the distribution of trace gases in Earth's atmosphere? How are forests, coastlines, landmasses and polar regions changing on a global scale?
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is hosting the 36th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment (ISRSE) in Berlin from 11 to 15 May 2015. Earth observation satellites ensure that changes to Earth are documented and fundamental information on the weather and climate, biodiversity and the ecosystem, sustainable agriculture and forestry, mineral resources and resource consumption, and water and air quality is provided. Satellite data can also provide support in the event of crises and natural disasters. The German radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X play an important role in this.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is organising the 36th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment (ISRSE) in Berlin from 11 to 15 May 2015.
Earth's cryosphere is particularly susceptible to climate change. Rising temperatures are certain to result in profound and widespread changes at high latitudes, where the ground remains frozen all year.
Shelves of ice, hundreds of metres thick, breaking into thousands of small icebergs that melt away in just a few days. This is not a scene from a disaster movie, but actually happened in the Antarctic in 1995 and 2002.
The radar satellite TerraSAR-X has been orbiting the Earth since June 2007; in June 2010 its twin, TanDEM-X, followed it into space. For almost four years, the two satellites have been operated in a close flight formation by DLR.
The 2014 harvest season is coming to an end, and throughout Germany the signs are of good yields for wheat, corn and similar crops. But the differences are large depending on the location. Hence, for optimum cultivation, it is important to be constantly aware of the condition of the soil and the crops. Radar images are particularly suitable for providing large-scale observations – using an aircraft or a satellite.
The lava outflow on the Holuhraun field northeast of Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano continues unabated. The lava field has grown to cover an area greater than 25 square kilometres.
Bardarbunga, (Bárðarbunga) in Iceland, one of the largest volcanoes in Europe and located beneath the biggest glacier in Europe, became active again in mid-August. For several years now, DLR researchers have been keeping a close eye on Bardarbunga and the system of volcanoes associated with it – an enormous network of subterranean magma channels, vents and craters.
On 20 May 2014 at the ILA Berlin Air Show, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the US corporation Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. (TBE) signed an agreement to install and operate the imaging spectrometer DESIS (DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer) on board the International Space Station (ISS).
This ambitious project started on 21 June 2010, when the radar satellite TanDEM-X set off into space to join its twin satellite, TerraSAR-X. Since then, these two German satellites have been orbiting Earth in an intricate formation and mapping its surface.
Since 2011 the "Copernicus Masters" competition has been awarding prizes for outstanding ideas, applications and business models for the innovative use of earth observation data for commercial purposes and projects to benefit society at large. Companies, startups, researchers and students can submit their ideas from now until 13 July 2014. In the category "Energy & Environmental Challenge" the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is looking for the best idea for an application in the area of environment and climate. The DLR winner will receive a prize of 5,000 euro.