DLR provides Earth-observation data from two German radar satellites, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, that can acquire very detailed images regardless of cloud cover or daylight.
“Radar images are ideally suited to mapping flood disasters, as they clearly distinguish between expanses of water and land,” says geographer and charter secretary, Jens Danzeglocke. In some cases, DLR also assists with optical data from the RapidEye satellites, in the event of forest fires, for example, or after particularly extensive incidents, such as the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Since the charter was formed, founding member CNES has been among the most active members in terms of responding to disaster relief and security needs. The agency is involved in more than 80% of charter activations at a rate of 30-40 times per year via its SPOT 5 Earth-observation satellite, which provides the bulk of French imagery; it has delivered 100 pictures a year since 2000.
For now, SPOT 5 imagery is complemented by data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Landsat satellites as well as high-resolution optical satellite imagery provided by U.S. commercial fleet operator DigitalGlobe to the USGS through the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
With SPOT 5's retirement expected in 2015 and no French-government-owned successor to follow, the organization will use imagery from the European Union's Sentinel 2 Earth-observation satellites—slated to launch in 2014 but likely to be delayed—and France's new twin sub-meter-resolution Pleiades optical-imaging satellites launched in 2011 and 2012.