Earth Observation Center – For Earth into Space


Earth Observation Center

Prof. Stefan Dech
Director DFD, Oberpfaffenhofen
Prof. Richard Bamler
Director IMF, Oberpfaffenhofen

The Earth Observation Center (EOC) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) consists of the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) and the Remote Sensing Technology Institute (IMF) and is the center of competence for earth observation in Germany.
The EOC has ISO 9001:2008 certification. IMF and DFD are the leading national earth observation research and development institutions with public funding. DFD’s expertise is in operational tasks (Center for Satellite-based Crisis Information ZKI, National Remote Sensing Data Library NRSDL, international data reception facilities) as well as in the application of remote sensing to obtain information about the land surface, the atmosphere and civil crisis situations. IMF focuses on scientific research related to algorithm development, image processing, and data product development.

The primary tasks of the Earth Observation Center are

  • Conception, development and operation of an integrated ground segment for earth observation missions which includes a network of data reception stations and a German satellite data archive
  • Development of generic processors for data from a variety of remote sensing sensors, systems integration, and operational processing of large amounts of data
  • Development and generation of value-added geoinformation for environmental monitoring, climate and atmospheric research, and for applications in the domain of civil security and humanitarian aid
  • Development and operation of user-oriented service centers for rapid and long-term access to data, value-added products and derived information
  • Provision and operation of optical sensor systems for aerial remote sensing in order to prepare, calibrate and validate satellite sensors and data products
  • Conception of advanced sensor systems and missions (SAR, infrared, multispectral and hyperspectral).

Focus of the institutes comprising the Earth Observation Center

The IMF focus is mainly on developing sensor-specific algorithms and methodologies, whereas DFD concentrates on developing user-oriented products and services.

  • The methodological work of IMF is oriented toward processing radar data and toward sophisticated image analysis. A specific field of application is marine remote sensing, whereas the DFD application portfolio concentrates more on the land surface, civil security and the atmosphere.
  • IMF operates elaborate calibration facilities for optical sensors; DFD operates an integrated DLR payload ground-segment for national and European earth observation missions.

The Earth Observation Center contributes to a variety of geoscience and atmospheric research projects at internal DLR, national and international levels by processing and providing access to requested data and information. Performing such challenging interdisciplinary tasks requires considerable specialist knowledge as well as competence in the fields of physics, mathematics, information technology and engineering.

Locations and structure

The EOC is located at three DLR research centers:

  • Oberpfaffenhofen (circa 350 members of staff and directorate) with the Maritime Safety Research Department Bremen
  • Neustrelitz  (circa 50 members of staff)
  • Berlin-Adlershof (circa 15 members of staff)

Additional working groups (circa. 40) have been established at two endowed chairs at:

  • Munich Technical University TUM (IMF director) and
  • Würzburg University (DFD director)

The Earth Observation Center is composed of 13 units, with "Controlling" (EOC-CO) as a central service unit for both institutes. Central services are also provided by the "Information Technology," "Science Communication and Visualization" and "Business Development" units. EOC is managed by a joint directorate, where Prof. Bamler has the functional responsibility for IMF and Prof. Dech for DFD.

Programmatic funding

The institutional funding of the Earth Observation Center is governed by the research program of the Helmholtz-Association. The EOC is allocated to the research domains “Space & Transportation,” with DFD being predominantly active in the “Space - Earth Observation” program, while IMF also receives funding from the “Transportation” and “Aeronautics” programs. Through its participation in national, European and ESA (European Space Agency) research and development projects and by providing operations support for ESA, DFD currently finances over 50% of its budget with third party contracts. The corresponding figure for IMF is about 40%. Both institutes team up with German and international industry and SMEs in order to apply for ESA bids relating to the development and operation of European earth observation missions. Besides ESA, the most important clients are the European Commission, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and commercial enterprises.

EOC has ISO 9001:2008 certification.

Prof. Dr. Richard Bamler
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Earth Observation Center (EOC)
Remote Sensing Technology Institute
, Director IMF
Tel: +49 8153 28-2673

Fax: +49 8153 28-1420

Prof. Dr. Stefan Dech
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Earth Observation Center (EOC)
German Remote Sensing Data Center
, Director DFD
Tel: +49 8153 28-2885

Fax: +49 8153 28-3444

URL for this article