International Charter on Space and Major Disasters

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The International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" is a non-binding charter which provides for the charitable and humanitarian retasked acquisition of and transmission of space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major disasters. Initiated by the European Space Agency and the French space agency CNES after the UNISPACE III conference held in Vienna, Austria in July 1999, it officially came into operation on November 1, 2000 after the Canadian Space Agency signed onto the charter on October 20, 2000. Their space assets were then, respectively, ERS and ENVISAT, SPOT and Formosat, and RADARSAT.

The assorted satellite assets of various corporate, national, and international space agencies and entities provide for humanitarian coverage which is wide albeit contingent. First activated for floods in northeast France in December 2001,[1] the Charter has since brought space assets into play for numerous earthquakes, oil spills, forest fires, tsunamis, major snowfalls, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and landslides,[2][3] and furthermore (and unusually) for the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370[4] and for the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak.[5] As of 2015 fifteen space agencies are signatories; dozens of satellites are available with resolutions ranging from 8 km per pixel to about 0.3048 m per pixel.[6]

Successive signatories and satellite assets[edit]

As of 2012 the live satellites and their instrumentalities were: The high resolution and very high resolution radar sensors of ENVISAT (decommissioned in April), RISAT-1, RADARSAT-1 & 2, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X; the high resolution and very high resolution optical sensors of SPOT satellites4 & 5, Pleiades, Landsat 5 & 7, PROBA1, UK-DMC 2, KOMPSAT-2, IRS-P5, Resourcesat-2, Oceansat-2, Cartosat-2, IMS-1, and RapidEye; the medium and low resolution optical sensors of POES, GOES, and SAC-C. Furthermore, specific agreements with other entities, including corporations, allow the Charter access to additional products of high and very high resolution from satellites such as the Formosat series, GeoEye, IKONOS, QuickBird, and WorldView.[8]

In 2014 the charter was activated 41 times for disasters in 30 countries. In that year the live satellites and their instrumentalities included: The high and very high resolution radar sensors of Risat-1, RADARSAT-2, TerraSAR-X, and TanDEM-X and Sentinel-1A; the optical high and very high resolution sensors of UK-DMC 2, Landsat 7 and 8, SPOT series 5, 6, and 7, Pléiades 1A and 1B, PROBA 1, SJ-9A, GF-1, KOMPSAT-2, IRS-P5 (Cartosat-1), Cartosat-2, Resourcesat-2, Oceansat-2, RapidEye, Kanopus-V, and Resurs-P, and the HDTV camera mounted the Kibo module of the International Space Station; and the medium and low optical sensors of POES, GOES, FY-3C, the Metop series, the first two Meteosat generations, and Meteor-M. Specific agreements with other entities allow for the usage of the Formosat, GeoEye, IKONOS, QuickBird, and WorldViews satellites, which have high and very high reolution. Archival data from defunct satellites such as ALOS, ENVISAT, ERS, CBERS, IRS-1C, Astra 1D, IRS P4, P6, IMS-1, RADARSAT-1, SAC-C, SPOT 1-3 & 4, UK-DMC, Landsat-5 and NigeriaSat are also available.[11]

Major events resulting in activation[edit]

This is very much a partial list; the 500th activation of the Charter was on 1 August 2016.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Disaster Charter – Activation Details. Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  2. ^ Disaster Charter – Recent Activations. (2010-05-28). Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  3. ^ "Saving lives from space". BBC News. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ /world-africa-29577175
  6. ^ "15 Years of International Cooperation on Disaster Response". International Charter Newsletter. International Charter Space and Major Disasters. 2015-12-31. p. 5. Retrieved 2016-05-07. 
  7. ^ a b c International Charter on Space and Major Disasters // International Symposium on Remote Sensing Applications to Natural Hazards, Washington, D.C. 12 September 2007, Barbara J. Ryan (Associate Director for Geography, U. S. Geological Survey)
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Roscosmos Acknowledged Full Member of International Charter on Space and Major Disasters // APRIL 23, 2014
  10. ^ Роскосмос — 15-й участник Международной хартии по космосу и крупным катастрофам (Russian space agency is 15th member of International Charter on Space and Major Disasters) // ГЕОМАТИКА. — 2013. — № 3. — С. 14-16. (GEOMATIKA 2013 №3 pages 14-16) (Russian)
  11. ^ "14th Annual Report". International Charter Space & Major Disasters. 2015-12-31. pp. 4–6. Retrieved 2016-05-07. 
  12. ^ "500th activation of the International Charter" (Press release). International Charter on Space and Major Disasters. 1 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ First Satellite Map of Haiti Earthquake, ScienceDaily
  15. ^ Spaceman: How satellites are being used in Haiti. BBC (2010-01-14). Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  16. ^ (French) Plan Orsec – Wikipédia. Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  17. ^ Disaster Charter – Earthquake in New Zealand. Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  18. ^ Disaster Charter – Earthquake in Japan. (2010-05-28). Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  19. ^ "Disaster Charter - Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines". Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  20. ^ "15 space organizations join hunt for missing Malaysian jet". CNET. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  21. ^ Ebola epidemic in West Africa
  22. ^ "Global Ebola outbreak deaths exceed 4,000 - WHO". BBC News. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  23. ^ "Latest Activation: Fire in Canada". International Charter on Space and Major Disasters. 4 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  24. ^ "Flood in United States". International Charter on Space and Major Disasters. 14 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 

External links[edit]