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Mapping without the sun
Zhang, Jixian

Commercial exploitation of TanDEM-X will benefit mainly
from the global high quality DEM product, the associated
update services, and the generation of topographic base data
(image and contour line maps). Further applications with
commercial potential will be implemented, based on the
applications research results (e.g. moving target detection,
super resolution, differential InSAR based monitoring).
The DEM quality domain that the TanDEM-X mission can
provide is today dominated by offers based on airborne
campaigns. There is currently no system or process available
to provide a global service for HRTI-3 (z-accuracy better than
2 m) and in specific cases HRTI-4 (z-accuracy better than 1 m)
DEMs with short response time. Those requirements of the
important geospatial markets can only be fulfilled by globally
operating a space-borne SAR system. Optical systems require
cloud free weather conditions and therefore often fail to fulfil
the global response time demand. Airborne systems lack in
global mapping capability.
Figure 6. Overview of available sensors and their digital
elevation standard.
7.1 Conpany profile
Launched in January 2001, Infoterra GmbH is a 100% owned
subsidiary of EADS Astrium, Europe's leading space
company. Infoterra was founded to prepare and conduct the
commercial exploitation of TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X data
services as well as system capacities.
Infoterra was formed by spinning-off the 'Earth Observation
Services' division of the former EADS Astrium GmbH,
Germany, re-branding of the UK-based National Remote
Sensing Centre Ltd., and the French ISTAR S.A. Infoterra has
a 200-strong team of highly skilled staff, including experts in
cartography, photogrammetry, forestry, agriculture,
geological exploration, environmental management, and
telecommunications planning. In addition, Infoterra's staff is
skilled in the development of systems software specific to the
management of geographic data. Such a strong market-
oriented positioning facilitates a prompt and flexible response
to all enquiries within the geo-information community.
Infoterra is serving and supporting both public and private
customers with geo-information on cartography, land use/
land cover, and forestry as well as with a focus on TerraSAR-
X, GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security),
and thematic mapping services. Infoterra is ISO9001:2000
and ISO 14001 certified and guarantees that all activities are
performed according to internationally accepted quality and
environmental standards.
7.2 Service Implementation
The TerraSAR-X as well as the TanDEM-X
implementation will be carried out in a PPP frame (Public
Private Partnership) between EADS Astrium GmbH and DLR.
The observation capacity of TanDEM-X will be 50% for
InSAR operations and 50% for compensating the TerraSAR-
X capacity contributions to the InSAR mission. Through this
capacity swap the nominal TerraSAR-X line can be
maintained at committed service capacities. Infoterra GmbH
will exploit the commercial mission part and sell the products
and services globally, capitalizing on the customer base and
sales network established for the TerraSAR-X based portfolio.
TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X data and services will be a
major component in many applications related the geospatial
information. In the basic application TerraSAR-X will
contribute to topographic mapping, time-critical
reconnaissance, and land cover surveys which provide the
core elements for any presentation or analysis of geographic
information. In addition TanDEM-X will provide the third
dimension in a new quality.
Depending on the information depth of the requested
information categories, the derivation from SAR data might
be very complex in specific cases. Based on the profound
experience of the Germany-based Infoterra and its distribution
and production partners TerraSAR-X / TanDEM-X data and
services will be delivered globally and with the highest
standard of accuracy, quality, reliability; and sustainability.
Starting in the second quarter of 2007, TerraSAR-X will
support the use of other Earth observation data through its
multi-scale, multi-temporal and multi-frequency/polarization
observations of remote areas that were formerly almost
impossible to map. TanDEM-X will follow in 2009.
Figure 1 -3: courtesy of Joanneum Research, Austria