Already for 13, respectively 16 years, the German radar satellites TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X have provided high resolution radar images and high-precision digital elevation models of Earth. And completely new products and results are still emerging, such as those just introduced at the TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X science team meeting at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen.
During the meeting held October 18 to 20 an international team of over 100 scientists learned about the latest product of the twin satellite, namely the “TanDEM-X DEM Change Map”. This global mapping shows where Earth’s topography has changed in recent years due to volcanism, erosion, raw material mining and construction projects. Its creation was only possible because of the especially long life of the satellites. TerraSAR-X was launched already in 2007, its satellite twin in 2010. The two satellites were originally designed for a lifetime of just five-and-a-half years. Because of the unanticipated gain in mission duration, not only was the primary mission goal achieved, to obtain a consistent, global, 3D map with 12 meter ground resolution (2010 to 2015), but in addition a second topographical survey could be produce in the period from 2017 to 2020. The new “TanDEM-X DEM Change Map” has again resulted from a comparison of the two high-precision digital terrain models and has a ground resolution of 30 meters. At present, work has already started on a second updating of the TanDEM-X model, which will yield a third Change Map, to be completed in 2024.
In addition to this product news, the visiting radar experts attending the three-day science team meeting obtained information on the current status of both radar satellites as well as on other current and planned international missions. Then followed a lively exchange among the scientists at the DLR facility in Oberpfaffenhofen. In 74 lectures and 23 poster presentations, advances in radar remote sensing in the areas of agriculture, forests, oceans, georisks and geotectonics, permafrost, ice and snow, hydrology, urban settlements, terrain model generation, and processing methods were introduced.
Since 2008 DLR has regularly held TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X science team meetings to promote science interactions among the scientists and share news with the research community about the mission and its products.
Participants of the 2023 TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X science team meeting