International Charter on Space and Major Disasters

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The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters is a 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 private, national, and international space agencies 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 for the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370[4] and for the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak. [5]

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 satellites 4 & 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.[10]

Major events resulting in activation[edit]

The charter was activated for the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).[11]

The French Civil Protection authorities, Public Safety Canada, the American Earthquake Hazards Programme of USGS and the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti requested a post-event map of Haiti on January 14, 2010, two days after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, via the Space and Major Disasters Charter.[12][13]

Both COGIC (French Civil Protection)[14] and the American USGS requested the activation of the charter on the behalf of MCDEM New Zealand, thus readily providing satellite imagery for aid and rescue services following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.[15]

Japan, through its space agency JAXA, requested the activation of the charter on March 12, 2011, to help in managing the aftermath of 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[16]

The charter was activated on November 8, 2013, by Philippine authorities as super-typhoon Haiyan made landfall.[17]

On March 11, 2014, the charter was activated by Chinese authorities to aid in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which disappeared on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing Capital International Airport.[4][18]

On October 9, 2014, the charter was activated by the USGS on behalf of National Geospatial Agency to monitor the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak (in Sierra Leone, specifically), the first time its space assets have been used in an epidemiological role.[19][20]

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. ^ 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)
  7. ^
  8. ^ Roscosmos Acknowledged Full Member of International Charter on Space and Major Disasters // APRIL 23, 2014
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ First Satellite Map of Haiti Earthquake, ScienceDaily
  13. ^ Spaceman: How satellites are being used in Haiti. BBC (2010-01-14). Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  14. ^ (French) Plan Orsec – Wikipédia. Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  15. ^ Disaster Charter – Earthquake in New Zealand. Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  16. ^ Disaster Charter – Earthquake in Japan. (2010-05-28). Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  17. ^ "Disaster Charter - Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines". Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  18. ^ "15 space organizations join hunt for missing Malaysian jet". CNET. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  19. ^ /other-in-sierra-leone
  20. ^ "/world-africa-29577175". BBC News. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 

External links[edit]