The big picture for disaster management
In late December 2004, India, the United Nations, and France’s Civil Protection Agency activated the call for rapid support from the Charter and a massive deployment of satellites was called into action while the tsunami swept over parts of Southeast Asia. Canada had just assumed the lead in coordinating the space assets of International Charter members.
RADARSAT and other satellites took critical images of the affected regions. Canadian companies contributed by swiftly processing, compiling, and developing the images and assessing the damage. The information was quickly relayed to assist Asian nations in directing rescue and humanitarian efforts and the resources required to begin the long task of rebuilding their communities.
RADARSAT’s critical contribution
When on-the-ground information is unavailable or incomplete, images provided by satellites are powerful tools in accurately evaluating the impact of disasters and supporting rescue efforts and aid that will alleviate the effects of disaster on people in the region.
RADARSAT with its specialized microwave radar proved its worth during the tsunami, providing images day and night, in all weather conditions. This is a key advantage over optical satellites— absolutely critical when time is a factor in saving lives. Canada’s “Eye in the Sky” is also being used during reconstruction. For example, in Indonesia, it has helped establish the extent of damage to agriculture due to salt-water flooding, as well as the destruction of dams, canals, and other coastal infrastructure.
Cooperation for a better future
Key Canadian space industry partners, MDA Geospatial Services of Richmond, B.C., Dendron Resources of Ottawa, and Hatfield Consultants of Vancouver worked as a team, quickly processing and analyzing the data to provide valuable images in support of relief efforts.
International Disaster Charter members include the Argentine Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, France’s Centre national d'études spatiales, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.