The British National Space Centre and DMC join the International Charter

16 November 2005
 
In London on Tuesday, the British National Space Centre
(BNSC) formally became a Partner Agency of the International Charter
‘Space and Major Disasters’ on behalf of the Disaster Monitoring
Constellation (DMC) Consortium.
 
This means BNSC will participate
in the Consortium??s adherence to the Charter by performing certain
functions during an initial period of two years. BNSC has already
provided Project Manager support to previous Charter activations in
liaison with ESA, including during the 2003 Soufri?ãre Hills volcanic
eruption in Montserrat in 2003 and following the Bhuj earthquake in
India in 2001.
 
The International Charter ?´Space
and Major Disasters?? is a joint initiative to put space technology at
the service of rescue authorities in the event of major disasters. Each
member agency has demonstrated its commitment for using space
technology to serve humankind when it is most in need of assistance
when disasters of both natural and human origin strike the world??s
communities or wreak havoc on the environment. To date, the Charter has
been activated more than 90 times.
 
Recently,
the Charter was activated after the October 8 earthquake in northern
Pakistan and Kashmir which caused the deaths of more than 73 000
people. Charter members contributed with images from satellites,
providing key cartographic information on remote, difficult-to-access
areas affected.
 
The images were used by national rescue
teams, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations as
base maps for assessing damage to infrastructures; for measuring the
extent of landslides; and for selecting localities where emergency aid
was most needed.
 
The Disaster Monitoring Constellation
(DMC) was designed as a proof of concept constellation, which is
capable of multispectral imaging of any part of the world every day. It
is unique in that each satellite is independently owned and controlled
by a separate nation, but all satellites have been equally spaced
around a sun-synchronous orbit to provide a daily imaging capability.
 
The satellites are: Alsat-1 from Algeria,
Nigeriasat-1 from Nigeria, Bilsat-1 from Turkey, UK-DMC from the UK and
in the future Beijing-1 from China. Through the support of the British
National Space Centre, DMC-builder Surrey Satellite Technology owns and
operates the UK satellite in the constellation.
 
The DMC was
designed from the start to service many of the requirements of disaster
monitoring. Its small satellites jointly provide daily revisits with a
600 km imaging swath width at 31-metre Ground Sample Distance (GSD) for
broad area coverage. Disaster management authorities will now have
access at any time to images from the whole of the DMC, adding to the
major Earth Observation satellites that form the core of the Charter’s
space-based resources.
 
“Having this constellation of satellites
to join the Charter in support of so many requests makes us feel very
pleased, in particular since the Charter has so recently proved the
importance of space in helping to minimize suffering caused by natural
and technological disasters all over the world,” said Volker Liebig.
 
Following the UNISPACE III conference held
in Vienna, Austria, in July 1999, the European and French space
agencies (ESA and CNES) initiated the International Charter ?´Space and
Major Disasters??, with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) signing the
Charter on 20 October 2000. Other members include the Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) and the Argentine Space Agency (CONAE).
 
(Credits ESA


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