Airbus Defence and Space

Space in daily life All programmes


The highly capable Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite

Airbus Defence and Space’s 1.2-ton radar satellite TerraSAR-X was launched on 15 June 2007 and provides Earth observation data of unprecedented quality, with a resolution of up to one metre, for scientific and increasingly diversified commercial applications.

Commercial users require detailed data adapted to their individual requirements, available quickly and reliably, independent of daylight and weather conditions. This is exactly what TerraSAR-X offers. Data from Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) are particularly suitable for commercial exploration. The SAR instruments supply extremely detailed radar images, day and night, in all weather, which are the basis for a wide variety of products and services, such as highly sophisticated client-specific image interpretation, mapping services, databases and analysis much in demand for a wide scope of applications: environmental planning, land use and natural resource exploration, regional and urban development, catastrophe response and relief, insurance and risk, security and defence, and many more.

TerraSAR-X‘s new-quality data also offer a vast amount of new research initiatives – for instance in ecology, geology, hydrology and oceanography. Movement of the Earth’s surface can be detected in the sub-centimetre range which is used to support further scientific fields of application (plate tectonics, volcanism, earthquakes).

TerraSAR-X is the first German radar satellite implemented under a Public–Private Partnership. Cooperation partners are the German space agency (DLR) and Airbus Defence and Space. The DLR is responsible for the scientific use of the TerraSAR-X data, whereas commercial marketing is conducted exclusively by Airbus Defence and Space’ GEO-Information Division.

Read the article by the BBC's science correspondent.

Earth ObservationRemote sensingTandem-X