TerraSAR-X, Germany's first ppp-funded Satellite. Image: EADS-Astrium
Launch: 15 June 2007
Based on the expertise previously gained in the field of synthetic aperture radar technology (X-SAR/SIR-C missions in 1994, SRTM in 2000), DLR and EADS Astrium GmbH agreed on building and operating a radar satellite for scientific and commercial use. Named TerraSAR-X, the project was the first to be implemented by a public-private partnership in which both parties contribute towards financing the system.
The core of the project is an X-band radar satellite designed to generate images of the Earth's surface in a variety of modes: images taken in 'spotlight' mode show an area measuring ten by five kilometers at a resolution of up to one meter. In 'strip map' mode, the satellite scans a swath 30 kilometers wide at a resolution of three meters. In 'ScanSAR' mode, the swath is as wide as 100 kilometers, although the resolution is lower at 16 meters. Moreover, TerraSAR-X is designed to capture radar interferometry data which may be used to generate digital elevation models.
The satellite was built by EADS Astrium GmbH and launched on 15 June 2007 on a Ukrainian/Russian DNEPR rocket. DLR is responsible for operating the satellite (GSOC) as well as for receiving, processing and distributing its data (DFD, IMF). Further responsibilities include system aspects as well as the calibration/validation of SAR data (IHR). Infoterra GmbH, a subsidiary of EADS Astrium GmbH, is in charge of commercializing the high-resolution data supplied by TerraSAR-X, with the goal to establish a self-supporting Earth observation business in Europe. Scientific applications are being coordinated by DLR, whereas EADS Astrium GmbH holds exclusive rights to exploit the data commercially.