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TanDEM-X - A New High Resolution Interferometric SAR Mission
TanDEM-X (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement) opens a new era in spaceborne radar remote sensing. The first bistatic SAR mission, is formed by adding a second, almost identical spacecraft, to TerraSAR-X and flying the two satellites in a closely controlled formation with typical distances between 250 and 500 m. Primary mission objective is the generation of a consistent global digital elevation model with an unprecedented accuracy according to the HRTI-3 specifications. Beyond that, TanDEM-X provides a highly reconfigurable platform for the demonstration of new SAR techniques and applications. The mission has been approved for full implementation by the German Space Agency and TanDEM-X is launched on June 21, 2010.
The most precise map of the world
05 August 2015
The Planet Earth in 3D, and more precise than ever before! Research scientists create, with the aid of two satellites, a map of the world that has 30 times more precision. Those people who are planning an ‘active’ holiday usually take along a lot of gear – and this certainly includes a detailed hiking or biking map with precise elevation readings.
Cosmic scarring in radar view
12 June 2015
There are just 188 known meteorite craters worldwide. Some span a mere 10 metres, while others extend across 160 kilometres and are significantly more impressive. They all share a common history – an object from outer space must hit the Earth travelling at least 11 kilometres per second, or 39,000 kilometres per hour, to leave behind an impact crater.
TanDEM-X image of the month - Changes in permafrost landscapes
01 April 2015
Approximately one quarter of the Northern Hemisphere contains permafrost – an area so vast it can only be regularly and comprehensively monitored through satellite remote sensing. The Lena Delta in Siberia lies in such a permafrost zone.
POLinSAR Workshop: Mapping forest structure from space
02 February 2015
Over the last 10 years a new method using satellite radar data has been maturing to provide 3D views of Earth’s natural resources and urban environments. Scientists from around the world gathered recently to share the latest advances in the exciting technique of ‘POLinSAR’.
Christmas news on TanDEM-X
23. Dezember 2014
One of Santa Claus' reindeers has been spotted by TanDEM-X. It has been hiding itself on the snow-covered, mountainous Tajmyr peninsula in North Siberia. Can you see it? We are now very excited and wonder if TanDEM-X will be able to reveal the secret home of Santa Claus, too. Look out for further news on TanDEM-X at
. The Microwaves and Radar Institute sends many season greetings and wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
TanDEM-X: A feel for ice
25 November 2014
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. High-resolution images acquired by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) TanDEM-X satellite are helping glaciologists from the University of Innsbruck track down the causes.
TanDEM-X - Gallery now on-line!
20 November 2014
TanDEM-X not only provides scientific data. From an artistic point of view, it also provides astonishing images. A collection of beatifully visualized Digital Elevation Models has now been compiled for the first time and put on-line in an image gallery via
TanDEM-X – Start of the Science Phase of the mission
10 October 2014
After four years of successful data acquisition for the new global topographical map of Earth, the Science Phase is beginning.
Blog: Satellite formation change successfully completed
24 September 2014
IN GERMAN: Den Missionen TerraSAR-X und TanDEM-X standen wieder Tage der Veränderung ins Haus - und zwar die Änderung der Flugformation des Raumsegments. Der Grund dafür war der Übergang in eine neue Phase der Mission nachdem die Aufnahmen für das globale Höhenmodell Mitte September abgeschlossen wurden. Bis Ende 2015 werden mit der TanDEM-X-Mission neuartige Radartechniken und innovative Anwendungen erprobt.
TanDEM-X sees rice growing
14 August 2014
Can the height of a rice plant be measured from space? TanDEM-X, a DLR mission designed to generate high accuracy global elevation models, has been shown to be capable of doing just that.
Traces of humankind – settlement patterns seen from space
25 June 2014
The sometimes bold, other times delicate lines in the images that scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have created using data acquired by the German radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X resemble Chinese ink drawings. In truth, though, the black and white maps taken from an altitude of over 500 kilometres show the world's cities, villages and groups of houses wiggling along the course of rivers, following the lines of roads and rail tracks or spreading out into the arable countryside.
DLR at ILA 2014: The satellite missions
26 May 2014
From 20-25 May 2014, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) presented research topics and projects at ILA International Air Show Berlin, amongst others also the satellite missions TanDEM-X and Tandem-L. Professor Alberto Moreira summarizes the highlights of radar remote sensing in an interview in the following
A new map of Earth – in 3D and extremely precise
19 May 2014
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. Now, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is making the first elevation models of a new global topography for scientific use.
DLR Magazine: World atlas – 'made in space'
25 March 2014
In June 2007, the TerraSAR-X radar satellite was launched. It entered Earth orbit, where it flew ‘solo’ for three years until June 2010, when its twin, TanDEM-X, followed it into space. With their radar antennas pointed at Earth, they are on a mission to generate a three-dimensional elevation model of our planet. Now that the first elevation models are available for users, a true milestone has been reached on the journey towards a highly precise, three-dimensional world atlas ‘made in space’.
Fastest glacier in Greenland – DLR satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X identify speed record
04 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 German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), 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.
TanDEM-X Science Team Meeting: Presentations now available
26 June 2013
All TanDEM-X Science Meeting presentations are now
and can be
bulk downloaded (348 MB !!!)
TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X Science Team Meetings: FINAL Program now available
10 June 2013
The FINAL TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X Science Meeting Program is now
Next TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X Science Team Meetings: June 10-14, 2013 at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
08 January 2013
The main goals of the two meetings are the provision of information to the mission status, your presentation of the first results obtained with TanDEM-X science data and the exchange of experiences with other researchers. Interested scientists are kindly invited to present their research results in an oral or poster presentation. Please note that a separate registration for TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X sessions is required. The TerraSAR-X sessions will be on June 10 -11, the TanDEM-X sessions will be on June 12-14. A common session on Wednesday (June 12) morning.
The online services for registration and abstract submission will be open from February 15, 2013 on our webpages:
TanDEM-X: https://tandemx-science.dlr.de (June 12-14, 2012)
TerraSAR-X: http://sss.terrasar-x.dlr.de/ (June 10 -11, 2012)
Please notice the following deadlines for both meetings:
Registration: from February 15th, 2013 until April 30th, 2013
Abstract submission: from February 15th, 2013 until April 15th, 2013
Flagship event for remote sensing – IGARSS 2012 opens
23 July 2012
The most important conference in the world on geoscience and remote sensing has begun – some 2400 experts from more than 70 countries will be guests at the International Congress Center in Munich until 27 July 2012. The focus of the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) will be on new applications, integrated Earth observation systems, satellite image processing methods, as well as ongoing and future satellite missions.
IGARSS 2012 Live Web Broadcast
21 July 2012
During International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium IGARSS 2012 in Munich we will have a live broadcast of six oral sessions. Please have a look here.
IGARSS 2012 – ‘Remote Sensing for a Dynamic Earth’
10 July 2012
One of the most important conferences on geoscience and remote sensing will take place at the International Congress Centre in Munich from 22 to 27 July 2012. The International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) is being organised by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS), part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
TerraSAR-X Image of the Month - Bottleneck off the Orkney Islands
02 July 2012
A mere 10 kilometres separate John O'Groats, at the northernmost tip of the Scottish mainland, and South Ronaldsay, in the Orkney Islands. What passengers on the ferries directly experience can also be observed from space by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X satellite duo; in the Pentland Firth, the water flows at great speed, often causing a rough crossing.
11 May 2012
The twin-mission TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X is an extraordinary constellation and a highlight in terms of technical innovation in satellite steering. Planned as a single mission "TerraSAR-X", the initially individual satellite has been accompanied by a nearly perfect twin (IN GERMAN).
A step closer to mapping the Earth in 3D
13 January 2012
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. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) controls both radar satellites, generates the elevation model and is responsible for the scientific use of TanDEM-X data.
DLR Magazine 129 • 130 - Seeing double
20 July 2011
Although the cover looks like batik work, it is actually an interferogram showing the landscape around the River Taz in Siberia. The data for the image was acquired by the TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X satellites, which are flying in formation and surveying the surface of the Earth. By 2013, DLR will have created an extremely accurate digital elevation model of Earth's entire land surface.
Where and how does ice move in the ocean?
25 March 2011
TanDEM-X has now begun routine operations, and is working with TerraSAR-X in bistatic mode and recording data for its global digital terrain model. In this post, I look back at an earlier phase of the mission, when this satellite pair orbited the Earth separated by a mere three seconds or 20 kilometres, and each sensor acquired images independently.
3rd TanDEM-X Science Team Meeting: All presentations are now available here
22 February 2011
The 3rd TanDEM-X Science Team Meeting took place on 17-18 February 2011 at DLR Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. You may now download
here. See "Read more".
Traffic monitoring with the TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X satellite constellation
28 January 2011
Traffic monitoring from space, day and night, from more than 500 kilometres up above; is that possible? Indeed it is! In fact, it has been demonstrated several times in the past – once with the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), and again with TerraSAR-X. The traffic processors used with SRTM and TerraSAR-X were and are still subject to considerable limitations.
TanDEM-X ready for routine operations in 2011
15 December 2010
TanDEM-X has passed another important milestone: the radar mission's test phase has concluded in less than six months according to plan, paving the way for routine operations - the collection of elevation data - in 2011.
First photographs of the TerraSAR-X - TanDEM-X formation in orbit
15 Dezember 2010
The dutch archaeologist and satellite tracker Dr. Marco Langbroek managed to image the two German radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X from ground during their formation flight in orbit with a camera. One satellite is flying in front (TerraSAR-X) while the other is following (TanDEM-X). TerraSAR-X appears slightly brighter than TanDEM-X.
Federal government approves new German space strategy
30 November 2010
The German Federal Government adopted a new space strategy at its cabinet meeting on 30 November 2010. The paper defines the fundamentals of how the high-technology space sector is to develop over the next few years at a national level and in so doing, how it must respond to changing political and societal conditions on the domestic as well as international stages. This strategy is being introduced by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie; BMWi). The strategy paper was drafted jointly with the other federal ministries involved in space activities, and in consultation with scientific and business establishments such as the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
TanDEM-X - Recent DEMs for Crisis Management: Vulcano Merapi, Indonesia
22 November 2010
ONLY AVAILABLE IN GERMAN: Thomas Fritz, zuständig für die Prozessierung der TanDEM-X-Daten, zeigt im Blog aktuelle Aufnahmen des Vulkans Merapi: "Als wir vor einigen Wochen die allerersten bistatischen DEM-Aufnahmen mit der TanDEM-X-Formation aufnahmen, war auch der Vulkan Merapi eines der ersten Ziele. Natürlich ahnten wir nicht, dass er kurze Zeit später ausbrechen und diese DEM-Aufnahme bereits zur Unterstützung des Krisen-Managements dienen würde. Mittlerweile gibt es weitere Aufnahmen des Merapi, an denen man den Nutzen der hochaufgelösten und genauen TanDEM-X-DEMs für solchen Krisenfälle erkennen kann."
TanDEM-X-Mission Blog: Baptism of fire for the satellite formation
20 October 2010
Last Thursday, the two German radar satellites of the TanDEM-X formation finally reached their operational orbit configuration, with only a few hundred metres separating them. In this configuration, they act as a unique radar interferometer in space. The next day, on Friday evening, the instruments were switched on, after many careful checks, to acquire the world's first Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data using a free-flying bistatic Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite formation. That same night, the jointly acquired data were received and processed by our operational processing chain.
TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X – imaging Etna while flying in formation
19 October 2010
The TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X satellite pair have acquired their first image of Earth’s surface, synchronised to the microsecond, while flying over Mount Etna in Italy. Scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have used the data to create a three-dimensional digital elevation model with an unprecedented elevation accuracy down to two metres. The image, taken while the satellites were flying just 350 metres apart, is the first in the world to be made by satellites flying in such a close formation.
TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X flying in close formation
15 October 2010
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the space company Astrium have recently taken an important step forward in their mission to create a three-dimensional map of the world. On 14 October 2010, the radar satellite TanDEM-X moved into close formation with its 'twin', TerraSAR-X.
TanDEM-X Blog: Initial reports of success from the control room
13 October 2010
We are off again; the team at the German Space Operation Center (GSOC) and their colleagues from EADS Astrium gathered two days ago in the control room to manage the transition to close formation flight. We began the first manoeuvre on Monday, 11 October 2010; this is referred to as the ‘drift start’ manoeuvre, which gives the TanDEM X satellite (TDX) the necessary momentum to close to a distance of one kilometre behind TerraSAR X (TSX) within a few days.
In the Field - For a Precise View from Space
13 October 2010
Colleagues of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) prove TanDEM-X with employed mobile and fix installed transponders and reflectors - for a precise view of TanDEM-X down to the earth surface. With the measured results the complete TanDEM-X system is calibrated (ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE IN GERMAN).
"Everybody waltz!" – TerraSAR X and TanDEM X - Close formation flight has begun
12 October 2010
"Everybody waltz!" – this is the invitation to dance at the annual Vienna Opera Ball. This phrase is now applicable to the TerraSAR X and TanDEM X satellites, because as of yesterday the 'dance floor' is open and close formation flight has begun. Upon successful completion of the final tests, permission to commence the now imminent mission phase was granted by a panel of experts at the conclusion of the Formation Flight Reviews.
A connection with antennas - TanDEM-X project leader Manfred Zink
11 October 2010
Manfred Zink likes to organise things. For the TanDEM-X radar satellite mission he is organising when and where the antennas of the satellites are to point, in order to acquire the best three-dimensional images possible of our planet. Manfred Zink is Project Manager for the Ground Segment of the mission at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen. He is responsible for directing the entire mission, from the close flight formation of the TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X satellites to the creation of the digital elevation model. This is the thirteenth of our series of portraits on the DLR web portal.
TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X "chat" for the first time
27 August 2010
Simply synchronization data are exchanged between the two satellites - but this was enough to acquire a first simultaneous data set of TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. Herewith, we accomplished a worldwide first experiment of acquiring images in a bistatic radar mode of two in formation flying radar satellites. (Article in German)
TanDEM-X Blog: The face of the Earth
20 August 2010
For a month now, we have been acquiring altitude models with the TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X satellite pair. Already, over 1000 products have come out of our operational processing chain. Alongside many test images, some of the data also give an insight into how humankind has shaped the surface of the Earth – and how the highs and lows around them have determined the course of their lives.
TanDEM-X: Inauguration of the first DLR ground station in Canada
10 August 2010
On 10 August 2010, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) inaugurated its first satellite data receiving station in Inuvik, Canada. DLR will use the new ground station particularly to receive data for the German TanDEM-X satellite mission. Using the large, 13-metre antenna, partner countries Germany and Canada as well as scientists from around the world and other external users will be able to access important satellite data, process and evaluate them. The development of new technologies for Earth observation is an important joint objective.
Expression of Interest and Contact
Proposal Submission Interface
(The Science Service System is now open for the submission of scientific proposals)
- as above but secure connection -
TanDEM-X DEM Gallery
TerraSAR-X / TanDEM-X
TanDEM-X Blog (GERMAN)
TanDEM-X Blog (ENGLISH)
Very latest news will first appear in German.
4th TanDEM-X Meeting
3rd TanDEM-X Meeting
First Meeting (PDFs)
Microwaves and Radar Institute (DLR-HR)
Earth Observation Center (EOC)
German Remote Sensing Data Center (DLR-DFD)
Remote Sensing Technology Institute (IMF)
German Space Operation Center (GSOC)
EADS Astrium GmbH
ILA 2014 Berlin: TanDEM-X / Tandem-L
„Radaraugen im All“
IGARSS 2010 - Hajnsek - TanDEM-X Scientific Contributions
IGARSS 2010 - Schwerdt - Monostatic Calibration of both TanDEM-X Satellites
IGARSS 2010 - Breit - Processing of Bistatic TanDEM-X Data
IGARSS 2010 - Huber - Validation of Tie-point Concepts by the DEM Adjustment Approach of TanDEM-X
IGARSS 2009 - Hajnsek - TanDEM-X: Science Activities and Proposal Submission
TGRS 2007 - Krieger - TanDEM-X: A Satellite Formation for High-Resolution SAR Interferometry
RADAR 10/2004 - Moreira - A Tandem TerraSAR-X Configuration for Single Pass Interferometry, HiRes
- as above but in low resolution -
IGARSS 09/2004 - Moreira - TanDEM-X: A TerraSAR-X Add-On Satellite for Single-Pass SAR Interferometry
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