The construction of the German radar satellite TanDEM-X (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement) is complete and the satellite has been qualified for space operations during a series of tests conducted at IABG in Ottobrunn, near Munich. As with its 'twin' satellite TerraSAR-X, the TanDEM-X project has been implemented as a public-private partnership (PPP) between the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and Friedrichshafen-based Astrium GmbH.
On 11 May, the satellite will set off on the first leg of its journey – from Munich airport to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Lift-off aboard a Russian Dnepr launcher is scheduled for 21 June 2010.
With the almost identical TerraSAR-X satellite, operational since 2007, TanDEM-X will gather data for a digital elevation model portraying Earth's landmasses in unprecedented quality. Collecting the data for this new model will take three years. To do this, TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X will form a radar interferometer. The satellites will fly in close formation, only a few hundred metres apart, enabling terrain images to be acquired simultaneously from different viewing angles. The two satellites are scheduled to map the complete land area of Earth –150 million square kilometres – on a 12-metre grid and with a relative vertical accuracy of less than 2 metres.
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