Two German reconnaissance satellite launched into orbit in tight formation, and are preparing to make the most detailed 3D map of the entire surface of the Earth.
Satellites TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X moved to a distance of 350 meters from each other, flying above the planet at a speed of 7 km / c.
The couple will soon begin an intensive intelligence company that will narrow the difference in the height of the Earth’s landscape to the incredible precision of less than two meters.
Digital elevation model (DEM) will find a countless number of ways to use - from increasing the safety of air navigation to better understand which regions of the surface are the most at risk of flood.
TerraSAR-X was launched in 2007 and TanDEM-X in June 2010. Since the launch of their trajectories continuously converging with each other.
Last week, the maneuvers were carried out step by step in close proximity of the two devices to each other.
"It was not easy and I have to admit that we are all a little worried," - said Manfred Zink, from the German Space Agency (NCA).
The orbit at which the satellites are flying continuously rejected, so their path like two strands twisted into a double helix. This is done in order to ensure trouble-free flight, so they never ran into each other.
While some devices, approaching the space station at a distance sometimes just a few meters from the platform, but it does not last very long.
TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X, unique in that they spend the next three years, revolving around each other, and the current gap that is not the shortest distance at which they are to be: it will be only 200 m
"The closest distance between them is at the commissioning stage," - said Dr. Zink, project manager. "We hope that by Christmas we will be able to complete the conduct of various tests that are planned, and begin the process of collecting global DEM-information."
Signature: DEM model Arakar volcano on the border of Argentina and Chile
Radars located on satellites continuously send microwave pulses to the earth and the water surface. Measuring the time it took the signal to ensure that fly back and forth, the device can determine the height of the object being measured.
Orbital dance that spins a sweet couple, and will surround or stereo vision, allowing them to operate in interferometric mode when one of the spacecraft acts as a transmitter and a receiver, and the other only as a receiver.
Fully finished DEM Earth’s surface would be ready by 2014. News First, download and upload news ticker on your page.