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The Earth in 3D

First TanDEM-X coverage of the world completed

After a year in service, the Earth observation satellite TanDEM-X, together with its twin TerraSAR-X, has completely mapped the entire land surface of Earth for the first time. The data is being used to create the world’s first single-source, high-precision, 3D digital elevation model of Earth. The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) controls both radar satellites, generates the elevation model and is responsible for the scientific use of TanDEM-X data.

Running like clockwork

It is reminiscent of ballet on ice; throughout the last year, the radar satellites TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X have been moving through space in close formation, at times just a few hundred metres apart. Strip by strip, they have recorded Earth from different angles and transmitted high-resolution radar data from their orbit at an altitude of 514 kilometres down to the three ground stations – Kiruna (Sweden), Inuvik (Canada) and O’Higgins (Antarctica).

The mission is running even better than expected and there have been no unscheduled interruptions in the programmed formation flight of the two satellites. All safety mechanisms are functioning robustly and in a stable manner, enthuses Manfred Zink, project manager for the TanDEM-X ground segment at DLR.

Over the course of 2011, the distance between the satellites was progressively reduced down to the minimum permitted value of 150 metres.

(Source: DLR)

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Earth ObservationTerraSAR-XGeoinformation ServicesTandem-X