Airbus Defence and Space satellites mobilised to help disaster relief effort
Satellite imagery and data are vital tools for catastrophe response and relief, so clearly demonstrated by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on 11 March. Satellite pictures transmitted in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami are crucial, enabling urgent evaluation of the areas most affected and intervention decisions to be made.
Airbus Defence and Space’s GEO-Information Services division has been applying its specialist space resources to assist in the disaster relief effort.
Following the Japanese earthquake and ensuing tsunami on 11 March, SPOT 5 was tasked by the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters to obtain images of the affected areas. On Saturday 12 March, SPOT 5 acquired the first strip of four scenes covering the city of Sendai along with both Fukushima nuclear power plants. Additional SPOT 5 imagery of the area was acquired on Sunday 13 March.
The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters is made up of space agencies all over the world. The purpose of the International Charter is to acquire and deliver data to those affected by natural or man-made disasters throughout the world.
Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants
Following the cooling system failure and subsequent evacuation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, an explosion occurred near nuclear reactor no. 1. In addition, it was reported that cooling systems in three out of the four reactors at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant (approximately 7.5 miles south) had also failed. As a precaution, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for those within 12.5 miles of the two plants. This power station is among the 25 largest in the world.
SPOT 5 was able to obtain images of both nuclear power plants on Saturday 12 March.
Airbus Defence and Space satellites observe disaster in Japan. © CNES 2011 - Distribution Airbus Defence and Space/Spot Image
TerraSAR-X change analysis
In addition to SPOT 5, another satellite in the Airbus Defence and Space GEO-Information Services portfolio, TerraSAR-X, has been collecting data over Japan after the disaster. Combining new imagery with archive data produced a detailed change analysis of the Sendai area.
This analysis clearly shows affected urban zones, flooded areas, and areas filled with debris. (© DLR/ ZKI)