Five years ago today, at 04:14 CEST on 15 June 2007, the German TerraSAR-X radar satellite was launched from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This marked the beginning of a new era in satellite remote sensing for Germany.
Ice and snow can be colourful – at least when seen through the 'eyes' of the German Aerospace Center's (DLR) TerraSAR-X radar satellite. The radar signals are able to penetrate the snow cover to a depth of one metre – and the subsurface reflects the pulse in different ways.
How has our ozone layer changed in the last 10 years? How do trace gases like nitrous oxides, carbon dioxide and methane influence our climate? How do environmental protection measures work? These were the questions that German researchers sought to address.
After a year in service, the German Earth observation satellite TanDEM-X, together with its twin satellite, TerraSAR-X, have completely mapped the entire land surface of Earth for the first time. The data is being used to create the world's first single-source, high-precision, 3D digital elevation model of Earth.
Viewed from above, the US 'Burning Man' festival resembles a spider web. In October and September 2011, the TerraSAR-X radar satellite, operated by DLR, acquired some impressive images of the festival and its setup process.
When a series of images acquired with the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X – operated by DLR – are combined into a sequence, the result is truly amazing; even gas storage tanks can have an eventful life of their own. The position of their covers reveals the amount of gas in the tanks; as it varies over time, TerraSAR-X gazes down at the bobbing of the gas tank covers in the Italian Porto Marghera.
The crater of the Chilean volcano Puyehue displays a striking, circular outline in this image from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) TerraSAR-X satellite – so this was not the culprit when a volcano in the southern Andes erupted on 4 June 2011. Instead, as the images from the German radar satellite show for the first time, the new eruption centre lies 6.7 kilometres further to the northwest, in the Cordón Caulle region.
When Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on 11 February 2000 for the 'Shuttle Radar Topography Mission' (SRTM), it was carrying two radar antennas; one in the shuttle's payload bay and the other on the end of a 60-metre mast. Over the course of eleven days, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) acquired data for a three-dimensional terrain model of large areas of the Earth. Now, DLR is making these data available for scientific purposes free of charge.
Nobody knows exactly how many people live in Istanbul, but there are thought to be about 15 million inhabitants of this city on two continents. Images from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) TerraSAR-X radar satellite are giving urban planners a more accurate view of something slightly different – how much the city on the Bosphorus has spread out recentlyreitet.
For the latest maps from the DLR Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information, click here.
The German Remote Sensing Data Center (Deutsches Fernerkundungsdatenzentrum; DFD) and the German Space Operations Center (GSOC), both of which are part of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), are continuing to provide as much data as possible from the two German radar satellites, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, for the assessment of damage caused by the recent tsunami in Japan. Radar data, in contrast to data from optical satellites, can be acquired independently of cloud cover or time of day and allow precise identification of the flooded and destroyed areas on the east coast of Japan.
After the severe earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the International Charter 'Space and Major Disasters' was activated on the morning of the 11 March 2011. All participating institutions were asked to provide satellite imagery of the affected area. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is responding through its Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) in Oberpfaffenhofen.
German Aerospace Center (DLR) researchers have been instrumental in the preparation of a report on the changes in the Ozone Layer for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The report was published online by the Geneva-based WMO in January. Recent estimates suggest that, by the middle of the 21st century, the thickness of Ozone Layer will be the same as in the early 1980s.
If the city of Bonn were located on the edge of the Fimbul Ice Shelf, in the Antarctic, its inhabitants would now be embarking on a journey through the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. An iceberg the size of Bonn – with a surface area of 120 square kilometres – has calved in the Atlantic. Glaciologists at Hamburg University's Climate Campus have been using the German Aerospace Center (DLR) radar satellite, TerraSAR-X, to observe the area from an altitude of 500 kilometres and gain a better understanding of how icebergs like this will calve in the future.