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Sharing Earth observation satellite data to help understand our planet

01 December 2016

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Since the launch of the first Earth-observing satellites in the 1970s, numerous missions from international space organisations have taken to the sky. Today, decades of data are helping scientists to build a better picture of changes to our planet.

Between 2008 and 2009, a 750 sq km-area of ice in the northern Antarctic - known as the Wilkins Ice Shelf - partly disintegrated. At the time, ESA's Envisat satellite monitored the event with the help of the DLR German Aerospace Center's TerraSAR-X mission.

While the event itself made headlines, scientists got to work studying the ice's behaviour before the break-up and continued to monitor the area for years afterward.

In a study published recently, a team of researchers from the German university Erlangen-N├╝rnberg examined data dating back to 1994 from the ERS mission to map the ice speed on the Wilkins Ice Shelf up through 2010 using Envisat, TerraSAR-X and Japan's ALOS.

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