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Wide-angle view from space

30 August 2013

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Officially, the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X should have been out of service for over a year and a half - that's how long it has exceeded its intended lifespan. But engineers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have switched the satellite, which was launched to space on 15 June 2007, to yet another mode: TerraSAR-X can now record image strips over 200 kilometres wide.

"The satellite does so by sweeping this large area in multiple stages, very quickly pivoting the radar beam numerous times across the direction of flight," explains DLR mission manager Stefan Buckreuss. For example, the image of the German Bight shows the Frisian Islands from Borkum to Wangerooge and cities such as Wilhelmshaven and Bremen. This new 'wide-angle' mode is of particular interest to oceanographers, who will be able to use it to investigate the tidal range, changes to mudflats, shipping movements, wave patterns, ice floes and wind levels.

Since its launch, TerraSAR-X has already delivered over 120,000 images since being launched. However, the image strips from the TerraSAR-X satellite have been limited to a width of 100 kilometres to date. "For the first time, we now have an image of the entire German Bight from east to west, at a single point in time and in high resolution," says Susanne Lehner.

Source: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

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