The project to "map the Earth in 3D" is now entering its final preparation stage as the German Earth observation satellite TanDEM-X is readied for launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On 21 June, at approximately 04:14:02 CEST, the satellite is due to be launched in to orbit at an altitude of 514 kilometres using a Dnepr launch vehicle. Digital elevation models are fundamental for a wide range of applications: geoscientific disciplines such as hydrology, geology and oceanography call for precise up-to-date information about the properties of the Earth's surface.
Applications range from more efficient mining of the Earth's natural resources to optimised crisis deployment planning in disaster areas and for security missions. Digital maps are also a prerequisite for reliable navigation: their accuracy needs to keep pace with the increasing demands placed on global positioning.
Last but not least, commercial customers around the globe are already impatiently awaiting the TanDEM-X elevation model. As soon as the global TanDEM-X elevation model is available in 2013, remote sensing and geoinformation experts from the private sector, government agencies and defence/security establishments will be able to benefit from it in their day-to-day work.