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Earth Space Science

German Radar Satellite Lifts Off Tonight 65

Posted by kdawson
from the ready-for-my-closeup dept.
2Y9D57 writes "Germany's new TanDEM-X radar satellite is scheduled to lift off from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 04:15 Berlin time on 21 June — that's 10:14 pm Eastern today (20 June). Flying in close formation with its twin satellite, TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X will generate the most consistent and highest-resolution digital elevation map ever of the Earth — 12m = 40ft. pixel pitch. It will take three years to image all 150 million square kilometers (58 million square miles), in the process generating more than 350 TB of raw data. Here's where to go as the time approaches for live streaming."
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German Radar Satellite Lifts Off Tonight

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  • by chrb (1083577) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:24PM (#32633950)

    Unfortunately, despite being partly publically funded by the German taxpayer, it appears the complete dataset will be considered proprietary for the commercial exploitation of Infoterra GmbH.

    • by 2Y9D57 (988210) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:32PM (#32634018)
      Infoterra GmbH will be responsible for commercial sales of the data. The German Aerospace Center deal with the scientific utilization.
      • by chrb (1083577)

        The German Aerospace Center deal with the scientific utilization.

        Yes, it appears that the dataset is available under license to select individuals at university type establishments, after applying for permission, telling them what your research project is, and paying a license fee. You will have no right to reproduce the data, etc. etc. Will an individual unconnected with a research institute be allowed to use the data? Will OpenStreetMap be allowed to use the data? Can the dataset be reproduced and distributed alongside open source GIS software?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by 2Y9D57 (988210)

          The German Aerospace Center deal with the scientific utilization.

          and paying a license fee

          data sets will be provided under COFUR (Cost Of Fulfilling User Request) conditions

          • So I assume Google could pay the COFUR and integrate into Google Maps very inexpensively?
          • by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:49PM (#32635754)

            data sets will be provided under COFUR (Cost Of Fulfilling User Request) conditions

            ...to parties that submit a request with a good reason and get it approved.

            You can't just show up with a bunch of hard drives and ask for the data, even if you're
            prepared to pay for costs that would produce.

            ESA (and ESA-related, TerraSAR is German-only) projects have a long and annoying history
            of keeping their data under wraps despite public funding and no objections by the scientific
            parties (priorities of potential discoveries matter) involved.

            Until this changes, it's still SRTM [wikipedia.org] data for everyone.

      • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashBLUEdot.org minus berry> on Sunday June 20, 2010 @09:57PM (#32636346)

        Waddaya mean “commercial sales’? It’s paid by the taxpayer, and so everyone of us (writing as a German taxpayer) must have access to it. Or else I think it is pretty much illegal.

        And if everyone has access to it, and has already paid for it, who’s gonna pay for it again?
        Can people really be that stupid to do this? ... ...who am I kidding? :/

        • by 2Y9D57 (988210)

          Waddaya mean “commercial sales’? It’s paid by the taxpayer, and so everyone of us (writing as a German taxpayer) must have access to it. Or else I think it is pretty much illegal.

          Dear Mr Taxpayer, Your raw data is ready -- 220,000 DVDs -- where do you want them?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jeti (105266)

          A substantial part of the project cost is shouldered by private companies, not taxpayers.

        • In the USA, all government works [wikipedia.org] are in the public domain, which leads to NASA [wikimedia.org] images and others being usable by the public and due to the copyright status, also by Wikipedia.

          In Germany, a different concept was chosen. The general idea is that mostly private corporation want to use works by the government, e.g. publishers of books, maps, etc. In order to give a bit of the money spend on the works back to the taxpayer, everyone who wants to use those images has to pay royalties. This results in slightly less

    • Crud. The very first thing I thought of when I saw this was "cool, a high-res DEM to create terrain for FlightGear [flightgear.org]." SRTM is getting long in the tooth.
  • by yyxx (1812612) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:29PM (#32634000)

    So, let me see whether I get this right:

    Google taking street photos = bad (according to Germans).

    The German government making high resolution elevation maps from space = good (according to Germans).

    Where can I complain if I don't want my private property mapped by the German government?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fatnickc (1259582)
      Apparently Google's suggestion that people build a wall if they didn't want photos to be taken didn't go down so well
    • by 2Y9D57 (988210) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:37PM (#32634062)

      Where can I complain if I don't want my private property mapped by the German government?

      Don't worry. The reflection from your tinfoil hat will blind the radar over your house.

    • by dov_0 (1438253) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:42PM (#32634090)
      The elevation above sea level of the land one lives on is hardly personal or private information... A photograph of one's house, car, children playing on the lawn etc could be considered to be somewhat different.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This isn't a high resolution photo form the street through your living room window. It has a 12m (40ft) resolution. If you have something on your property that is more than 40ft long, I suspect people may already be aware of it.

    • Not France. Nor Poland. Austria is right out.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:59PM (#32634206)
      You must be one fat bastard to be showing up on a 12 meter pixel pitch image. I'm really curious as to how you get around if you're being covered by multiple pixels.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by EdIII (1114411)

        Some of us here on Slashdot will take up multiple pixels, but only when we get excited.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Um, because there's a difference between a PHOTO and an ELEVATION MAP? This isn't actually gonna show a picture, after all. All it's gonna show is "this point is 20 m above sea level, this point is 40 m above sea level".

      You're insane if you're comparing this to Google Street View.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by yyxx (1812612)

        You're insane if you're comparing this to Google Street View.

        The kind of insane objections people make to Street View also can be made here: "it's my personal property, nobody has a right to image it", "people are making money with this data, I want my cut", and "people may be using the data to plan crimes against my property".

        Why do you think those objections should apply to a "PHOTO" but not an "ELEVATION MAP"?

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Relax, nobody wants to steal the little hill on your ground. It will still be there in 10 years.

    • by RevWaldo (1186281)
      Human sacrifice, Russians and Germans working together, mass hysteria!

      .
      • Russians and Germans working together

        For the most part of our history, Prussians and Russians had a good, helpful relation.

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      Cue wingnuts complaining about the German government bombarding them with ZOMG RADIATION.

      News at 11: Is the German Government giving your children brain cancer!?!?!?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:35PM (#32634038)

    It's launching in Europe on the 21st June but on the 20th in the USA. Why is the good shit always released in the US first?

    </typicalslashdotrant>

  • by clevelandguru (612010) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:41PM (#32634080)
    At 40ft per pixel resolution, a normal 2 floored house will show as a single pixel above ground.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Brett Buck (811747)

      It's decent for SAR. Of course people have done *much much better* before. 40 feet for the entire Earth is a decent goal for civilian/commercial uses.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        I've no doubt that they could've done much better. I suspect they didn't want to spend 20 years doing it.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:04PM (#32635474) Homepage

      They can actually do much better, from what I gather on this site [terrasar-x.dlr.de]. Their highest 300 MHz high resolution spotlight mode will do down to 1.1x1.1 meter, but the main mode that'll sweep the earth is significantly coarser. Still in relative terms I must say the development here is huge...

    • by initialE (758110)

      Has it ever occurred to you, that they're advertising 40ft/pixel, but the actual capabilities of the satellite may not actually match the description? What incentive would any government have in telling you the truth when it regards your privacy issues?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2010 @04:08PM (#32634272)

    and also Area 51A!

  • by denzacar (181829) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @04:21PM (#32634342) Journal

    Poor rabbits... [youtube.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    TanDEM-X will generate the most consistent and highest-resolution digital elevation map ever of the Earth — 12m = 40ft. pixel pitch.

    The US had ten times better than that [fas.org] twenty years ago.

    • by Menchi (677927)

      However, this high resolution would come at the expense of broad coverage, and would be achievable over an area of only a few tens of kilometers square.

      You might not believe it, but the earth has a surface of more tens of square kilometres. The site doesn't have any real data on the actual speed of this thing, but it looks like that thing is something completely different (a military spy satellite) and might take dozens of years to cover the whole planets or even longer. If it is even capable of producing a

  • the correct term is topographic or relief map. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topographic_map [wikipedia.org]
  • I guess the fact that one satellite system will cover the entire earth is notable. Though I assume you could get a patchwork to cover the earth at finer resolution from elsewhere. However, 12 m is still rather coarse, even for commercial imagery. http://www.antrix.gov.in/earth_observation.html [antrix.gov.in] "... it offers these data in a multi resolution package of 1m, 2.5m, 5m, 23m, 56m and 180m with suitable spectral resolutions ..." http://www.geoeye.com/CorpSite/products/imagery-sources/Comparison.aspx [geoeye.com] 0.41, 0.5 a
  • I love these launches using converted Russian ICBM [wikipedia.org]s: literally Swords into Ploughshares [wikipedia.org] :-)

    • by s122604 (1018036)
      Hmm, I had my suspicions the Germans were up to no good.

      Now the Russians are in on it too
      how the hell am I supposed to tinfoil my entire property?
  • Good database to have, if you wanted to be able to isolate your land acquisitions to those areas which would be unaffected by - or would benefit from - rising sea levels.

    Caused by whatever.

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