Earth Observation Center
Applications and Projects
Earth Observation Center – For Earth into Space
EOC conducts research in the field of remote sensing. We seek answers to urgent social questions relating to the environment and climate, mobility and planning, prevention and management of natural catastrophes, and civil security. We operate satellite data receiving stations in Germany and abroad. In the German Satellite Data Archive (D-SDA) we safeguard data and information products long-term and make them available to users. EOC comprises the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) and the Remote Sensing Technology Institute (IMF), at work in Oberpfaffenhofen, Neustrelitz, Berlin-Adlershof and the Maritime Safety Research Department in Bremen.
Copyright © 2014 German Aerospace Center (DLR). All rights reserved.
Competition: Earth Observation Data Applications for Energy and the Environment
17 April 2014
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.
Formal Opening of Maritime Safety Research Department in Neustrelitz
28 March 2014
Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Prof. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the DLR Executive Board, officially opened the Maritime Safety Research Department at the DLR facilities in Neustrelitz on 27 March 2014. The German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) collaborates here with the DLR Institute of Communication and Navigation (IKN) on safe shipping and protecting oceans and coastal waters. DFD aims to generate customized information products from satellite data in near-real-time. The necessary algorithms are developed by scientists of the Remote Sensing Technology Institute (IMF) working at the Maritime Safety Research Department in Bremen.
EOC Ready for Data Stream from Sentinel Satellites
10 March 2014
The first earth observation satellite of the Sentinel series is still on the ground, but it and its followers will soon be delivering enormous amounts of data. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) will be ready. The ESA Processing and Archiving Centre (PAC) in Oberpfaffenhofen is linked up with the Copernicus Wide Area Network (WAN). This makes possible rapid and reliable high-speed access to the satellite data for the PAC at DLR. The Sentinel satellites complement the space components of Europe’s Copernicus programme – formerly Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).
ZKI at CeBIT
10 March 2014
The Center for satellite-based crisis information (ZKI) of the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) is present at the CeBIT exhibition from 10th – 14th of March 2014. ZKI, as part of the booth of the Federal Ministry of Interior (BMI), especially provides insights to the national service ZKI-DE. On Monday the 10th, the first day of the CeBIT exhibition, the Federal Minister of the Interior Dr. Thomas de Maizière visited the ZKI booth on his exhibition walkabout and was informed by DLR CEO Professor Johann-Dietrich Wörner and Director of the German Remote Sensing Data Center Professor Stefan Dech about the recent developments of ZKI.
Virtual Alpine Observatory: Unique Climate Research Network
07 March 2014
How will the climate evolve? What effects will that have on particular regions? Changes can be monitored especially rapidly and distinctly at high altitudes. In the atmosphere above high mountain regions climate researchers can accordingly find good indicators of global climate change trends. Alpine high-altitude research stations in Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany have now joined in an international network, the "Virtual Alpine Observatory" (VAO).
Eruption of the Indonesian volcano Kelut:
EOC measures trace gases in near-real-time
17 February 2014
After increased seismic activity in the past few weeks, the volcano Kelut erupted at about 10:50 pm local time on 13 February 2013. EOC was able to record the emitted trace gases and their distribution in near-real-time.
German-Norwegian Cooperation in Earth Observation
12 February 2014
DLR’s German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) and the Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) company, Norway, will collaborate even more closely in the future. On 10 February 2014 a corresponding memorandum of understanding was signed in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich.
Heat with Straw for 13 Years — First Estimate of Global Bioenergy Potential for Straw
03 February 2014
DFD scientists have determined for the first time the global bioenergy potential of straw, which could meet Germany’s heating needs for 13 years. The availability of biomass, particularly in the form of so-far unused waste straw from agricultural acreage, is a central indicator for calculating the net energy yield of renewable energy resources.
Fastest glacier in Greenland – DLR satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X identify speed record
03 February 2014
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 the Earth Observation Center, its speed is now increasing dramatically, with record figures for 2012 and 2013. High spatial and temporal resolution data acquired by the German radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X enabled very precise calculations of its speed. The results of the study will be released in the print version of 'The Cryosphere', an international scientific journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), on 7 February 2014.
Remote Sensing Peak
15 January 2014
Ten years of planning, ten years of travel, 2.5 years of deep sleep and nine million kilometres still to go before reaching the goal. Cross your fingers on Monday, 20 January at 11:00 a.m.! That’s when four alarm clocks go off at once to wake up Rosetta, eight hundred million kilometres away. One of the most exciting space missions then enters the home stretch. And the EOC role?
On behalf of DLR, DFD‘s Science Communication and Visualization unit developed, filmed and animated a short film about the mission – Part 1: “Chasing a Comet”. Here you see the original version. The German / English version you can find under YouTube.
Help from Space - TerraSAR-X maps pack ice
08 January 2014
For ten days, 74 scientists and tourists were firmly stuck in the Antarctic on board the Russian research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy. Strong winds had driven ice floes into a bay and blocked the ship. Near-real-time data from EOC helped those on the spot to evaluate the situation.
IMF/HR Team wins the DLR Science Slam 2013
See their final round presentation …
17 December 2013
For all those who couldn’t be there, here is the entry of the Science Slam winner at the DLR Annual Meeting in Göttingen, presented by the "Remote Sensing" Team: Maria Tello Alonso and Michele Martone (DLR Microwave and Radar Institute) and Daniele Cerra, Claas Hendrik Grohnfeldt, Aliaksei Makarau, Kevin Alonso Gonzalez (DLR Remote Sensing Technology Institute) Moderator: Normen Odenthal (Englisch, 10 min, 150 MB)
Great Barrier Reef Mapped for the First Time in High Resolution – a Development with EOC Roots
12 December 2013
For the first time the Great Barrier Reef has been completely mapped in high resolution. Earth’s largest coral reef extends for more than 2000 kilometres along the east coast of Australia and covers an area of ca. 350,000 square kilometres. The initial high resolution bathymetric measurements of this enormous area were made by EOMAP with the help of satellite data. The groundwork for this technology was laid at EOC. EOMAP is an EOC spin-off fostered by DLR.
Hurricane-force low pressure system leaves tracks in trace gases
December 06, 2013
Storm Xaver held Germany spellbound. Optical satellite images show the storm front as a wide band of clouds. But satellite trace gas measurements reveal more. For example, HNO3 (nitric acid) functions like a contrast medium for identifying currents in the atmosphere. EOC scientists use such trace gas measurements as well as the 3D chemical transport model SACADA developed at DLR to analyze the activity of planetary waves. These waves play a decisive role in determining our weather.
TWOPAC Classification Tool successfully deployed
November 20, 2013
The TWOPAC image classification tool (Twinned Object and Pixel Based Classification Chain) developed by the “Land Surface” department of DLR’s German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) was successfully deployed and tested abroad. The release of this open source software includes a seven-minute animation film introducing the idea behind TWOPAC, an extensive handbook, and the TWOPAC software itself, encapsulated in a virtual machine with all the components needed for installation on a USB stick.
DFD provides maps for the relief effort in the Philippines
November 14, 2013
Working in shifts around the clock, staff of the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) produced their first maps of the Philippine disaster areas based on satellite image data. When typhoon Haiyan reached the islands on 8 November 2013, extensively destroying wide areas, Germany's disaster aid organization (THW Technisches Hilfswerk) activated DFD’s Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) via the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters". The analyzed and processed images are now providing basic information for THW relief efforts on the island of Cebu.
Typhoon in Philippines
November 11, 2013
The typhoon “Haiyan” is one of the most powerful storms ever recognized, and has caused devastating demolition in the Philippines. Officials estimate more than 10,000 people have died. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) tasked the Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) with the creation of satellite image based situation information.
EOC successful at "Copernicus Masters 2013"
November 06, 2013
On 5 November 2013 the winners of the “Copernicus Masters” competition were selected at the Alte Kongresshalle in Munich. Hartmut Runge from the Remote Sensing Technology Institute (IMF) of DLR’s Earth Observation Center won the “BMW Connected Drive Challenge” as well as the overall “Copernicus Master 2013” award. His idea could be a step toward achieving automated vehicle navigation. It involves combining data on the location of objects as detected by car sensors with highly precise object detection data from satellite radars such as on Sentinel 1. The goal is highly precise localization of a motor vehicle independent of GPS.
Innovation Prize 2013 for the “Flying Wildlife Finder”
November 04, 2013
The "Gesellschaft von Freunden des DLR" (Association of Friends of the German Aerospace Center) has awarded its 2013 Innovation Prize to the EOC Team of Martin Israel team (IMF) for “outstanding scientific achievement in the Flying Wildlife Finder Project”.
Global Salon –EOC at the Munich Tollwood Cultural Festival
October 28, 2013
On Saturday, 30 November 2013, EOC will be represented at the Tollwood “Weltsalon”. In an on-the-spot report Nils Sparwasser of DFD will give viewers a fascinating glimpse of our planet. The geographer and his team are specialists in the science visualization of earth observation missions and present images from space that show our world from an extraordinary vantage point.
URUK: Reconstruction Based on Satellite Data
October 28, 2013
The temporary exhibition “URUK – 5000 Years of the Megacity” at the Pergamon Museum on Berlin‘s Museum Island was viewed by some 440,000 visitors. DFD produced an animation based on satellite data for this exhibition in order to give a visual impression of the world’s first metropolis. Now the exhibition moves to the LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne, where it will be on display from 3 November 2013 to 21 April 2014.
Evaluation of the Earth Observation Center
October 22-24, 2013
The institutes of the Earth Observation Center were evaluated between October 22 and 24, 2013 by an external team of experts under the leadership of Professor Hartmut Graßl. Eleven renowned reviewers from the fields of science, industry, ESA and the public sector spent three days assessing the science and engineering achievements and the strategic focus of the two EOC institutes: the German Remote Sensing Data Center and the Remote Sensing Technology Institute. This was the second such evaluation since this institute cluster was established 2000.
Global SnowPack – A snow cover dataset on a global scale
October 21, 2013
Information about extent, beginning, duration and melt of snow cover are important for climate research, hydrological applications, flood prediction and weather forecast. DFD scientists now developed a new global snow cover data set.
DLR and AWI test satellite-based methods for improving maritime navigation -
On the way to Antarctica on board of the research vessel 'Polarstern'
October 11, 2013
The Earth Observation Center is working on a satellite-based system for substantially improving ship navigation in ice-affected waters. The German Earth observation satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X provide the high-resolution images needed to make this possible. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) – the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research based in Bremerhaven – are currently on their way to Antarctica on board the research vessel 'Polarstern' to test the practicality of this technique.
Real-time Data Center Opens at DLR in Neustrelitz
September 13, 2013
On 13 September 2013 a new near-real-time data center was opened at DFD in Neustrelitz in the presence of the Minister of Economic Affairs, Construction and Tourism for the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Harry Glawe. The new building contains on some 2000 square meters operations and server rooms to meet the data processing requirements of the satellite receiving station there.
Wide-angle view from space
August 30, 2013
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 (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; 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.
Roscosmos joins "International Charter Space and Major Disasters"
August 28, 2013
In a formal ceremony at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS in Moscow on 28 August 2013, the Russian space agency Roscosmos signed a declaration on membership in the "International Charter Space and Major Disasters". German participation in the Charter is made possible by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and jointly implemented by DLR’s Space Administration and German Remote Sensing Data Center, which includes the Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI).
For Crisis Situations: Portable Ground Station for Data Transmission
August 28, 2013
Whether natural disaster or humanitarian crisis—local rescue teams require up-to-date situation information in the form of aerial or satellite images as rapidly as possible. But critical infrastructure is often lacking in crisis regions—power supplies, telecommunications, transport routes. DLR has now successfully tested a system for autonomous data transmission: the mobile ground station TOGS can be set up wherever desired to receive in real time high resolution data transmitted via a laser connection from an aircraft or satellite. The system was operated in an actual scenario for the demonstration tests. Aerial images were received which were recorded on board DLR’s Dornier Do-228 research aircraft as part of the EOC VABENE project, which investigates traffic management for major events and disasters.
Satellite View of the Oceans – Marine Security Research Unit established in Bremen
August 20, 2013
Ice floe movement, choppy seas, dangerous currents, spreading oil slicks, but also the position of ships — from the vantage point of space satellites have the best view of the oceans. That’s why EOC scientists assess radar images and receive ship signals with the help of satellites. DLR now brings together research activities of the Remote Sensing Technology Institute and the Institute of Aerospace Systems to form a Marine Security Research Unit in Bremen.
New Book on Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing
July 16, 2013
The book „Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing: Sensors, Methods, Applications” provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the art in the field of thermal infrared remote sensing. The editors are DLR-scientists Dr. Claudia Künzer and Professor Dr. Stefan Dech from the DFD. In this book renowned international experts contributed chapters on currently available thermal sensors as well as innovative plans for future missions. Further chapters discuss the underlying physics and image processing techniques for analyzing thermal data. Ground-breaking chapters on applications present a wide variety of case studies leading to a deepened understanding of land and sea surface temperature dynamics, urban heat island effects, forest fires, volcanic eruption precursors, underground coal fires, geothermal systems, soil moisture variability, and temperature-based mineral discrimination.
Dr. Robert Backhaus retires
July 11, 2013
After 27 years of dedicated service to DLR, Dr. Robert Backhaus was given an official farewell on the occasion of his well-deserved retirement. After a lecture by Dr. Backhaus on the UN-SPIDER program, Prof. Stefan Dech, director of the German Remote Sensing Data Center, paid tribute to Dr. Backhaus’ systems analysis approach to applying remote sensing to issues of environmental protection and planning and to his exceptional commitment to the UN-SPIDER program as a national remote sensing expert.
Longest glacier in Antarctica has 'calved'
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, off the west coast of Antarctica. EOC scientists documented the gradual propagation of the first crack over a period of several months. On 11 May 2012, a second crack was discovered. Glaciologists can use this data to better understand the processes involved in the calving of icebergs.
5th TerraSAR-X and 4th TanDEM-X Science Team Meetings
July 08, 2013
From 10 to 14 June 2013 the 5th TerraSAR-X and 4th TanDEM-X international gathering of users of data from these missions for science purposes took place at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen. Over 300 participants from 26 countries presented the new insights they gained with the help of TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X data.
Gone with the Wind
June 26, 2013
Once it has been swirled up into the air, fine desert dusk is often transported long distances by wind currents. This effect can be exploited to reveal complex wind currents in the lower atmosphere, which is especially useful when studying small gravity waves in the atmosphere. The direction of propagation and horizontal wavelengths can almost be read off with the eye.
ZKI Supplies Data for Charter Activation
June 24, 2013
On 19 June 2013 at 10:30 a.m. after heavy flooding in northern India and Nepal, the Indian government requested assistance from the “International Charter Space and Major Disasters”. DLR has been a member of the Charter since 2010, and in response to the resulting activation the Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) at DFD supplied satellite data to Indian disaster aid authorities. The German radar satellite TerraSAR-X sees through cloud cover to provide images with a wide-coverage view of the flooded areas.
Birthday Celebration for Twins
June 21, 2013
This month TDX and TSX, two German radar satellites, are three and six years old, respectively. Despite their age difference they can be considered twins, and together they are undertaking one of the most exciting current earth observation missions: TanDEM-X.
June 21, 2013
Summer has hardly begun, and the days are already getting shorter again. In 2013 the sun reached its highest point over the horizon in the northern hemisphere on 21 June. The summer solstice, marking the longest day and the shortest night of the year, is now behind us.
DLR aerial images reveal extent of flooding
June 06, 2013
DFD’s Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) has generated the first flood maps from data recorded by DLR’s research aircraft. They are available at www.zki.dlr.de. The images were recorded during a four-hour marathon flight by DLR’s Do 228-212 research aircraft. On board was a camera developed by the Remote Sensing Technology Institute (IMF) that provides images of the flooding at a resolution of 24 x 24 cm per pixel, thereby augmenting the satellite images with very precise close-ups.
Research plane took off for to take high-resolution aerial images of flooded regions
June 05, 2013
The Earth Observation Center makes available to rapid response teams up-to-date images of the flood regions. Toward this end, the DLR research airplane Dornier Do 228-212 took off equipped with a camera system and flew over the cities of Passau and Regensburg in Bavaria and the areas around Halle an der Saale and the Mulde reservoir in Sachsen-Anhalt. The collected data were then processed and made available by ZKI (Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information). For this campaign the EOC scientists made use of technologies developed for the traffic research project VABENE (Traffic Management for Major Events and Disasters).
DLR supports rapid-response teams with up-to-date maps based on radar data from space
June 04, 2013
Maps from DFD’s Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) clearly reveal the extent of flooding: in Passau, entire city districts near the confluence of the Inn and Danube rivers are under water; large areas around Elxleben north of Erfurt are flooded. ZKI obtains the information that supports the rapid-response teams in the German flood areas from up-to-date images recorded by the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X.
Floods in Germany: National Service ZKI-DE activated
June 03, 2013
The German Joint Information and Situation Centre (GMLZ) tasked the DFD’s Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) with the creation of satellite and arial image-based situation information covering the regions most affected by the current floods in Thuringia, Saxony, Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Harvest forecasts for the business world
March 22, 2013
Three graduates from Würzburg University will be supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology’s start-up program, EXIST. In their own company, the former students of the department headed by the director of DFD, Prof. Stefan Dech, intend to produce from satellite data precise harvest forecasts for the agricultural sector. “We are proud of our young colleagues. This step from the science world to independent employment is an excellent idea” is the way Prof. Dech sums up the plan. The business concept is an outgrowth of two doctoral dissertations dealing with sustainable land management, co-supervised by Prof. Christopher Conrad.
1st Mekong Environmental Symposium in Ho Chi Minh City
March 14, 2013
From 5-7 March 2013 over 300 scientists gathered in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for the 1st Mekong Environmental Symposium. The symposium was organized by DLR‘s German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) within the framework of the international WISDOM project, which is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and coordinated by DFD.
Visit of Czech Prime Minister Nečas
February 21, 2013
The European GNSS Agency (GSA) has moved its headquarters from Brussels to Prague. This provided an occasion for Petr Nečas, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, to also visit EOC at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen on 21 February 2013. DLR Executive Board member Professor Hansjörg Dittus welcomed the delegation, which was complemented by the Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer and the Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transportation and Technology, Martin Zeil.
German Federal President Joachim Gauck visits DLR
February 19, 2013
President Joachim Gauck visited the German Aerospace Center (DLR) on the occasion of his first official visit to Bavaria on 19 February 2013.
Accompanied by Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer and the Bavarian State Minister Martin Zeil he also came to EOC, where Prof. Stefan Dech described the activities of ZKI.
WISDOM – Water Management for the Mekong
February 06, 2013
On 5 March 2013 EOC will turn over to Vietnamese authorities a water-related information system for the Mekong Delta. This system was developed as part of the WISDOM project financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. (project film, English, 10 min, 25 MB).
Global artist at work
February 04, 2013
Impressing structures can be observed these days when looking at the global stratospheric ozone distribution. Wave like structures, filaments and even filigree patterns are revealed from satellite based data of the stratospheric ozone distribution which are highly variable in space and time. Patterns of the global ozone distributions even remind of fine artwork.
GEO Secretariat director visits EOC
January 29, 2013
The new director of the GEO Secretariat in Geneva, Barbara Ryan, visited EOC in Oberpfaffenhofen on 28 January 2013. Together with earth observation specialists from EOC she discussed DLR’s contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
On call: Satellite Data for Emergency Response
January 22, 2013
From the research stage to full operation – The Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) is now on call around the clock. This service facility established in 2004 provides up-to-the minute satellite-based maps for activities related to natural and environmental disasters, humanitarian aid, and civil security worldwide. On 22 January 2013 the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) officially launched regular ZKI operations.
EOC obtains a “world receiver”
January 09, 2013
EOC staff recently braved winter weather to install a new antenna on the roof of their building. It has a 7.3 meter diameter antenna reflector and can receive data from earth observation satellites at rates up to 600 megabits per second, 600 times the performance of a standard DSL link. Next-generation data reception—global real-time transmission of earth observation recordings—will be tested with this antenna.
Mekong Environmental Symposium 2013
November 20, 2012
The Mekong Environmental Symposium 2013 takes place from March 5th to 7th 2013 in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon.
Copyright © 2014 German Aerospace Center (DLR). All rights reserved.
How to get to us
Site Berlin Adlershof
Forschungsstelle Maritime Sicherheit Bremen
Projects and missions
EOWEB - Satellite data archive
OpAiRS - Optical Airborne Remote Sensing
WDC-RSAT - World Data Center for Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere
ZKI - Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information
EOC Media Coverage
ZDF Heute-Sendung: Raumsonde "Rosetta" wird aktiviert
SAT.1 BAYERN: Zukunftsvision: Autonomes Fahren - Teil 1
SAT.1 BAYERN: Zukunftsvision: Autonomes Fahren - Teil 2 (ab 8:15 min)
Northern Journal: Inuvik targeted as international satellite hotspot
First Conference on big Data from Space, Nov. 12–14, 2014
Open House 2014
Oct. 12, 2014
Storage Technology 2014
June 11-13, 2014
Erdbeobachtung für Mensch und Umwelt - Nationales Forum für Fernerkundung und Copernicus 2014
08.04. - 10.04.2014 in Berlin
Further Events at DLR Oberpfaffenhofen
Recent weather images
Copyright © 2014 German Aerospace Center (DLR). All rights reserved.