When lives are threatened or lost due to catastrophic disasters, and when massive financial impacts are experienced, international emergency response teams rapidly mobilize to provide urgently required support. Satellite observations of affected areas often provide essential insight into the magnitude and details of the impacts. The large cost and high complexity of developing and operating satellite flight and ground systems encourages international collaboration in acquiring imagery for such significant global events in order to speed delivery of critical information to help those affected, and optimize spectral, spatial, and temporal coverage of the areas of interest. The International Charter-Space and Major Disasters was established to enable such collaboration in sensor tasking during times of crisis and is often activated in response to calls for assistance from authorized users. Insight is provided from a U.S. perspective into sensor support for Charter activations and other disaster events through a description of the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), which has been used to support emergency situations for over a decade through its expedited tasking and near real-time data delivery capabilities. Examples of successes achieved and challenges encountered in international collaboration to develop related systems and fulfill tasking requests suggest operational considerations for new missions as well as areas for future enhancements.
Additional publication details
ASTER satellite observations for international disaster management
Proceedings of IEEE
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center