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German radar satellite TanDEMX ready for lift-off

TanDEM-X is readied for launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo: Yuzhny Space Center

BAIKONUR/BERLIN (BNS): The project to “map the Earth in 3D" is now entering its final preparation stage as the German Earth observation satellite TanDEM-X is readied for launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

TanDEM-X scheduled for launch into orbit on June 21 is now being integrated into the space head module. The satellite will be launched using a Dnepr launch vehicle at an altitude of 514 kilometres, an EADS Astrium statement said.

TanDEM-X (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement) is a German program for a new generation SAR satellite operating at X-band in single pass SAR interferometry.

The Astrium built satellite will gather data with the almost identical TerraSAR-X satellite 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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