TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X Completed 3D Map of the Earth: People Can Now Be Seen From Space Up-Close

First Posted: Oct 14, 2016 04:50 AM EDT

After 5 years of orbiting the Earth, TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X satellites, produced a stereoscopic pictures of the planet. A new 3D image of the Earth has been completed. Mountain peaks, plateaus and even the shores of the Bahamas can now be viewed with an accuracy of one meter.

Tandem-X satellite mission was led by DLR - German Aerospace Center, opening a new chapter in the field of remote sensing.

TanDEM-X was the first to launch into space in 2007 followed by the TerraSAR-X satellite in 2010. The two satellites orbited the planet in close formation and used radar technology and created high-precision remapping of the Earth.

The two satellites simultaneously orbited the Earth repeatedly scanning the surface of the planet with its interferometric radar instruments. 500 terabytes of data are transmitted continuously generating high precision Digital Elevation Model. It is like having extremely sharp eyes penetrating the floors of the planet.

Thousands of scientist around the world are now taking advantage of this latest breakthrough in our global elevation model. Precise geographical data transmitted by the satellites became the essential tool for all geoscientific applications.

Alberto Moreira, Principal Investigator of TanDEM-X mission and Director of the DLR Microwaves and Radar Institute, said "With completion of the global TanDEM-X elevation model, we are once again anticipating a surge in scientific interest. Accurate topographical data is essential for all geoscientific applications".

The new Digital Elevation model has transcended all expectations. With an excellent calibration system, TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X satellites surpassed the required 10-metre accuracy by generating an elevation accuracy of just one metre.

With the completion of the 3D world map, TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X are not done with its mission. They are expected to last for five more years and continue to be an integral tool for geological studies.

Moreira mentioned: "Earth as a system is highly dynamic, which is also reflected in its topography. Through frequent updates, we could capture such dynamic processes systematically in the future. This is the primary goal of the Tandem-L mission that we have proposed."

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