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Satellites help save lives

The UK is taking charge of an international group providing satellite data to support disaster relief across the world. The British National Space Centre and DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) will lead the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" from October 2007 until April 2008. The Charter was set up in 2000 to provide satellite data and imagery to help governments and aid agencies plan emergency relief following major disasters. It has provided valuable information to relief agencies after earthquakes, floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions.
Dave Hodgson
When the Charter is activated, Earth observation satellites operated by 14 international organisations are made freely available. The satellites provide data which is then used to produce maps and other information for emergency response efforts. The UK-built Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) is a key member of the Charter. The five satellites were built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and are owned individually by Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey and the UK. DMCii will chair the Charter Secretariat. DMCii Managing Director David Hodgson said: "Imagery from the DMC has been provided for more than 50 disasters and is particularly valuable in monitoring fires and floods. "DMCii is also proud to provide regular emergency on-call services to the Charter and to task the world’s Earth observing satellites in response to disasters." Minister for Science and Innovation Ian Pearson said: "The UK is proud to lead this important group. We often think of space as being somewhere to explore, but it can also bring enormous benefits to us here on Earth." Disaster Monitoring is one of the more direct forms of benefit from space, making it easier for the public to comprehend. The Charter is frequently called into action, or in Charter terms "activated". Charter members have been called on 34 times so far this year including on 14 September after floods devastated 12 countries in West Africa. The Charter was also activated in the aftermath of Hurricane Felix which hit Nicaragua and Honduras on 4 September 2007. The UK has activated the Charter twice this summer following the floods in north and south west England. Satellite data and images were used to produce maps of the flooded areas to help the Environment Agency assess the full extent of the damage.





22 October 20070 Comments1 Comment

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