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The new three-dimensional map of Earth has been completed. Mountain peaks and valley floors across the globe can now be seen with an accuracy of just one metre.
The global elevation model was created as part of the TanDEM-X satellite mission; it offers unprecedented accuracy compared with other global datasets and is based on a uniform database. The approximately 150 million square kilometres of land surface were scanned from space by radar sensors. “TanDEM-X has opened up a whole new chapter in the field of remote sensing. The use of radar technology based on two satellites orbiting in close formation is still unique and was key to the high-precision remapping of Earth. In this way, DLR has demonstrated its pioneering role and satisfied the prerequisites for the next major development step in satellite-based Earth observation – the Tandem-L radar mission,” says Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
More than 1000 scientists around the world are already making use of the data from the mission. “With completion of the global TanDEM-X elevation model, we are once again anticipating a surge in scientific interest. Accurate topographical data is essential for all geoscientific applications,” says Alberto Moreira, Principal Investigator of the TanDEM-X mission and Director of the DLR Microwaves and Radar Institute. The applications for this unique dataset range from climate and environmental research, surveying and mapping to infrastructure planning for urban development and road construction.