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Mission type Radar Imaging
Operator DLR
COSPAR ID 2010-030A
SATCAT no. 36605Edit this on Wikidata
Website Home
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer EADS Astrium Satellites
Start of mission
Launch date 21 June 2010, 02:14:00 (2010-06-21UTC02:14Z) UTC
Rocket Dnepr
Launch site Baikonur 109/95
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth

TanDEM-X (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement) is the name of TerraSAR-X's twin satellite, a German Earth observation satellite using SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) - a modern radar imaging technology. Implemented in a Public-Private-Partnership between the German Aerospace centre (DLR) and EADS Astrium (now Airbus Defence and Space), it is a second, almost identical spacecraft to TerraSAR-X. TanDEM-X is also the name of the satellite mission flying the two satellites in a closely controlled formation with typical distances between 250 and 500 m.[1] This unique twin satellite constellation will allow the generation of the WorldDEM™, the seamless global digital elevation models available from 2014.


The primary mission objective is the generation of WorldDEM, a consistent global Digital Elevation Model (DEM) with an unprecedented accuracy according to better than DTED Level 2 specifications. WorldDEM resolution will correspond to DTED Level 3 (post spacing of better than 12 meters) and a height accuracy of better than 2m (relative)- a standard not yet defined. Digital Elevation Models of posting better than DTED Level 2 are often called HRTI (High Resolution Terrain Information) DEM.[1]


With an unprecedented accuracy, coverage and quality, WorldDEM is a consistent DEM of the Earth’s entire land surface, acquired and generated within three years after launch. Available from 2014, WorldDEM is to feature a vertical accuracy of 2m (relative) and 4m (absolute), within a horizontal raster of approximately 12x12 square meters, slightly varying depending on the geographic latitude. Infoterra GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of Astrium, holds the exclusive commercial marketing rights for the WorldDEM™ and is responsible for the adaptation of the elevation model to the needs of commercial users worldwide. Accuracy over forested areas is unknown at this time however.

First 3D Image[edit]

Researchers at the German Aerospace Center facility in Oberpfaffenhofen published the first 3D images from the TanDEM-X satellite mission. A group of Russian islands of the Severnaya Zemlya group in the Arctic Ocean was selected for the first test.[2]

The radar remote sensing satellites TanDEM X and Terra SAR X photographed while flying in close formation (photo by Marco Langbroek, Leiden, the Netherlands). Movement is from lower right to upper left in this 10 second exposure.


External links[edit]