Fire detection from space
FireBIRD mission


TET-1 im Orbit
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  • TET%2d1 vor der Erde
    TET-1: Fire watch from Earth orbit

    Artist impression of the first of the two satellites in the FireBIRD mission,. Together with BIROS, as part of their joint FireBIRD mission, it has been in orbit since June 2016.

The Technology Experiment Carrier (TET-1) went into orbit on 22 July 2012. Its design was based on its predecessor BIRD (Bi-spectral InfraRed Detection), which was the first orbiter to be used in a small satellite mission for collecting data regarding high-temperature events.

The initial objective of TET-1 was to carry out 11 experiments over the course of one year as part of the OOV programme (On-Orbit Verification of new techniques and technologies). Research facilities and industry could test and verify their systems on the TET-1 in space conditions. These tests included a lithium-polymer battery system, a GPS receiver and new solar cells. Following the successful completion of the OVV mission, the satellite was deployed for use within the follow-up mission, FireBIRD.

TET-1's main payload is the high-performance infrared camera system known as the Hot Spot Recognition System (HSRS), which was already successfully used prior to the launch of BIROS as a forest fire detector. For example, in the summer of 2015, it was able to register and measure a large fire as well as several smaller fires in the US state of Oregon. In October 2015, the DLR satellite provided accurate images of the wide-spread forest and peat fires in Indonesia. Together with BIROS, as part of their joint FireBIRD mission, it has been in orbit since June 2016.

Operation and finance

TET-1 (like BIROS), is operated and monitored from the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen, with its antenna facilities in Weilheim. The data obtained from the payload are received, processed, archived and then made available for research by the German Remote Sensing Data Ceter (DFD) at the DLR site in Neustrelitz. The construction and operation of TET-1 is funded by DLR.

Overview of important system parameters in TET-1
Type of orbit LEO (Low Earth Orbit)
Average orbital altitude 497 to 522 kilometres
Orbital inclination (angle between the equator and the orbit) 53 degrees up to a sun-synchronous orbit (approx. 90 degrees)
Potential alignments of the payload Sun, Earth, nadir (vertical direction to Earth), zenith (extended vertical direction), direction of flight, deep space
Position and orbit control three-axle stabilisation
Payload power max. 20 watts (continuous power)
Maximum power 160 watts for 20 minutes (within any one day, five times per day)
Temperature range -10 to +30 degrees Celsius
Nominal battery voltage 20 volts (min. 18 volts, max. 24 volts)
Maximum current 8 amperes
Payload data rate 2.2 megabytes/second
Data storage 512 megabytes
TET dimensions LxWxH
67 x 58 x 88 centimetres
Payload dimensions LxWxH
46 x 46 x 42 centimetres
TET gross mass of payload 50 kilograms
TET total mass 120 kilograms

Last modified:
13/09/2017 10:45:07



Philipp Burtscheidt
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

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Stephanie Kaufhold
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

DLR Institute of Optical Sensor Systems, Department Public Relations

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