Space | 16. July 2010

Approach in orbit; busy times in Neustrelitz

DLR Bodenstation Neustrelitz
DLR Bodenstation Neustrelitz

Tirelessly, TanDEM-X is acquiring data while moving ever closer to the TerraSAR-X satellite. As yet, the first flight formation is not set up and thus no interferometric processing is possible. All data received by the TanDEM-X ground station network are transferred to Neustrelitz, where they are processed into SAR images like the operational ones from TerraSAR-X.

This week alone, there were nearly 600 additional data sets to handle. Even though the processing is fully automated, the operations team in Neustrelitz had their hands full, setting a new record on 13 July. Over 300 production runs were completed, more than ever before in a single day.


There was excitement on 13 and 14 July for other reasons as well. For the first time, both satellites were not only visible during a pass over Neustrelitz, but also transmitted their payload data to the ground. Two data reception chains, including two antennas, were necessary to collect all the data completely and correctly. In addition, the TanDEM-X data stream was routed for the first time into Infoterra’s Direct Access Reference Station, also located in Neustrelitz, and processed there as well. Our Infoterra colleagues were thus able to demonstrate the compatibility of their data reception chain with the TanDEM-X payload data. It has been a pleasure for us to support these tests at Neustrelitz.

Since June 24, we have already acquired and processed over 1000 scenes from TanDEM-X. Next week, we are going to start the first formation flight phase, known as the 'pursuit monostatic-commissioning phase'; this will last for 77 days. For the first time, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X will jointly acquire data from the same scenes on Earth and we can start interferometric processing.


Spectra as seen by the data reception operator during a common TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X pass. Credit: DLR.


Part of a TanDEM-X image from July 14, 2010. The city of Volsk, on the River Volga, is seen in the centre of the image, between two opencast mining areas. Credit: DLR.