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.
Since the 1990s, Jakobshavn Isbræ has been regarded as the fastest moving glacier in Greenland. According to studies carried out by researchers from the University of Washington and DLR, its speed is now increasing dramatically, with record figures for 2012 and 2013.
For ten days, 74 scientists and tourists were trapped in the Antarctic on board the Russian Akademik Shokalskiy research vessel. Strong winds had driven ice floes into a bay, blocking the ship's advancement.
On Friday 22 November at 13:02 CET (12:02 GMT) the three European SWARM satellites were lifted into orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia by a Rockot launch vehicle. The mission will take high accuracy measurements of Earth's magnetic field, expanding our knowledge of the processes at work in Earth's interior as well as in near-Earth space.
Officially, the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X should have been out of service for over a year and a half – that's how long it has exceeded its intended lifespan. But engineers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have switched the satellite, which was launched to space on 15 June 2007, to yet another mode: TerraSAR-X can now record image strips over 200 kilometres wide. "The satellite does so by sweeping this large area in multiple stages, very quickly pivoting the radar beam numerous times across the direction of flight," explains DLR mission manager Stefan Buckreuss. For example, the image of the German Bight shows the Frisian Islands from Borkum to Wangerooge and cities such as Wilhelmshaven and Bremen. This new ‘wide-angle’ mode is of particular interest to oceanographers, who will be able to use it to investigate the tidal range, changes to mudflats, shipping movements, wave patterns, ice floes and wind levels.
Two gigantic cracks have formed in Pine Island Glacier, the longest and fastest-flowing glacier in the Antarctic. A new iceberg with an area of over 720 square kilometres and its smaller 'brother' separated from the glacier on 8 July 2013 and have 'calved' into the Amundsen Sea.