ImagineGEO talks to… Claire Tinel, CNES Representative to the Charter
1. Can you explain the Charter’s mission?
The International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” rapidly provides spatial information free-of-charge and in a very short timeframe to security and civil protection organisations responsible for managing the consequences of major risks and natural disasters within their country.
The Charter specifically covers natural and industrial disasters with heavy human and/or material damages. The objective is to provide the freshest and the most relevant information to countries facing such ordeals and ground staff needing support. The Charter has been activated 479 times since its creation and half the countries on the planet benefited from it. How impressive this is!
2. What drives the choice of a satellite sensor among others?
Earthquakes, cyclones, floods, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, industrial accidents and oil spills are all relevant but the type of disasters which leads countries to activate the Charter are numerous and varied. Likewise, unfolding priorities and resolution needs are very diverse. For an earthquake, very high resolution images will be preferred. For instance, Pléiades 50cm products’ sharpness will permit the identification of impacted infrastructures. When coping with flooding, radar will be resorted as it can penetrate clouds and rain and enables the large-scale depiction of inundated areas. Yet high resolution optical information will also be requested on large areas in order to have an overview of the damages.
Pléiades is often the first one to answer the Charter’s needs. The constellation’s reactivity enables data acquisition and delivery in record time. Thanks to the satellite’s daily revisit capacity, no single place on the planet remains out of Pléiades scope. Thus the satellite can be tasked to acquire images of floods, urban zones or coastlines devastated by cyclones. In 2015, Pléiades images contributed to 53 products of the Charter, out of the 142 elaborated up to now.
When it comes to SPOT 6/7, its large swath is incredibly helpful for information collection. That’s why it is often tasked to acquire much larger zones, for example when there are volcano eruptions, plains being flooded or even forests fires.
Airbus Defence and Space constellation – with Pléiades and SPOT 6/7 – was solicited for 29 out of 35 activations of the Charter up to this day in 2015, a remarkable performance! It is all the more outstanding as they answered all the requests with success.
3. What are the ways in which members are attempting to improve the Charter?
Strengthening the Charter’s efficiency is a key objective for every member country. CNES strive for process optimisation to streamline the image chain from the moment the satellite is tasked until the product is delivered to the end-user. The objective is to shorten the timeframe between image acquisition and final product delivery.
CNES takes a huge amount of pride from the Charter’s success and dedicates significant efforts to the constant improvement of the service for the benefit of the entire World.
4. What recent event covered by the Charter touched you most?
Every disaster we remotely witness affects us. However, the earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 led to acquisition of some arresting areas. Pléiades successfully responded to the challenge by imaging the impacted area only 24 hours after the event. Thanks to SERTIT (Regional Service of Imagery Processing and Remote Sensing), damage and situation maps, using the information extracted from Pléiades imagery, were delivered to Nepalese authorities six hours after the images were available.
As you can see, Pléiades pre and post disaster images don’t have much in common…
Marming, village in Sindhupalchok District in the Bagmati Zone of central Nepal
Fearing aftershocks, which could result in house collapses, people moved into tents set-up in private gardens, parks, vacant lands