A precise understanding of glacier evolution requires knowledge of a glacier's exact mass. This is important in South America, in the tropical regions between Bolivia and Venezuela, where meltwater from glaciers provides drinking water during the dry season.
Forests are Earth's lungs; they help to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and thus counteract global warming, while also providing protection and resources for humans, animals and plants – and they are being lost at an alarming rate. As the view from space reveals, forests cover about one third of Earth’s landmass today.
Earth observation satellites play a key role in weather forecasting, climate research, monitoring of the planet's surface and the detection of forest fires. These tasks require satellites to transmit very large amounts of data to the ground for analysis. Today's radio systems are reaching their limits in this area.
Ice road truckers in Canada – symbolically 'at the end of the world' – with their massive trucks travelling over the frozen lakes in the Canadian northwest, are well known around the world thanks to numerous TV programmes. The ice roads are open for only a few weeks per year.
On 7 November 2018 at 01:47 CET, the European weather satellite MetOp-C was launched on board a Soyuz rocket from the European spaceport in French Guiana. MetOp-C will join two structurally identical satellites, MetOp-A and MetOp-B, which were launched in October 2006 and September 2012, respectively.
The 90-metre TanDEM-X Digital Elevation Model has been released for scientific use and is now available as a global dataset. By providing this data, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) follows the EU data policy under the Copernicus Earth observation programme, which encourages free and open access to satellite data.
Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; FDLR) Microwaves and Radar Institute are developing special radar technologies and analytical methods that enable the highly accurate observation of permafrost. As part of DLR's Permafrost Airborne SAR Experiment (PermASAR), they are carrying out extensive measurement flights over the permafrost region of Canada.
For anyone who watches TV weather reports, the satellite images of cloud formations and winds that play such a crucial role in our weather will be a familiar sight. No direct information about winds has been collected until now, but that is set to change with the advent of Aeolus.
Air pollution is one of the biggest threats to health worldwide. Around seven million people die as a result of pollutants every year, as the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently established in a global study.
The Sentinel-3 satellite pair, one of the principal components of the European Copernicus programme, is now united in space. On 25 April 2018 at 19:57 CEST (20:57 local time) the Earth observation satellite Sentinel-3B lifted off on a Russian Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. "The twin satellites will now monitor Earth together," explains Michael Nyenhuis, responsible for the Sentinel-3 mission at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Space Administration.
The Spanish Earth observation satellite PAZ was successfully launched on 22 February 2018 at 15:17 CET from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, United States, on board a Falcon 9 rocket. Interestingly, PAZ is being positioned on the same orbit as the German TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X radar satellites.
Emergency services in the US state of California are still fighting fierce forest fires. Severe drought and strong winds have allowed the fires to spread. The FireBIRD (Fire Bispectral InfraRed Detector) mission run by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) consists of a pair of satellites – TET-1 (Technology Experiment Carrier) and BIROS (Bispectral Infrared Optical System).
More and more people around the world are flocking to cities, creating densely populated regions. This also means that natural disasters pose a threat to a greater number of people, and that risk has been rising for decades worldwide.
How can modern agriculture benefit from satellite remote sensing? What does space technology offer digital farming and crop cultivation ('smart farming')? The German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is providing the answers to these and similar questions from 12 to 18 November 2017 at Agritechnica in Hanover, the world's largest trade fair for agricultural machinery.
After more than 15 years, the German-US Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) for precise measuring of Earth's gravity field has come to an end. Since its launch from the Russian cosmodrome in Plesetsk on 17 March 2002 on board a Rockot launcher, the twin satellites GRACE-1 and GRACE-2 have been orbiting Earth in close formation flight, precisely recording how Earth's gravity field changes over time.
In which quantity are trace gases, such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide, present in our atmosphere? How high are the global and regional concentrations of aerosol particles? Which processes induce changes in our environment, and how do they affect our climate, air quality, and therefore our health?
Designed to return unique images of the Earth for five years, the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X has outdone itself. The satellite has been in operation for twice that time – and there is still no end in sight to its service.
795 million people worldwide – or one in nine – do not have enough to eat. And the consequences of climate change continue to exacerbate this already precarious situation, with failed crops due to extreme periods of drought or flooding being just one example.
The new season has begun: DLR is once again looking for the best application ideas in the fields of satellite navigation and Earth observation for the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) and the Copernicus Masters.
Climate change, with all its ecological and economic implications, is one of society's greatest challenges. It is imperative that we develop efficient strategies and derive measures to protect our sensitive climate system on a global scale.