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Mission Photos:

TanDEM-X Satellite
TanDEM-X (Courtesy of DLR)

Mission Objectives:

The goal of the TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement (TanDEM-X) mission is to generate a high-accuracy global Digital Elevation Model (DEM). The goal will be achieved through a second SAR satellite (TanDEM-X) flying in a tandem orbit configuration with TerraSAR-X. Like TerraSAR-X, the satellite also carries the experimental Tracking, Occultation and Ranging (TOR) package provided by GFZ. TOR consists of a two-frequency CHAMP type GPS receiver and a CHAMP Laser Retro-Reflector (LRR).

The mission's objectives are:

  • generation of DEM (e.g., for hydrology)
  • along-track interferometry (e.g., for measurement of ocean currents)
  • bi-static applications (e.g., polarmetric SAR interferometry)

High-precision orbit determination and interferometric baseline vector information of the tandem configuration will be accomplished through the TOR instrument.

The ILRS Governing Board approved the TanDEM-X support request in May 2008.

Mission Instrumentation:

TanDEM-X has the following instrumentation onboard:

  • Active phased array X-band SAR
  • Tracking, Occultation, and Ranging (TOR) package
    • GPS receiver
    • Retroreflector array
  • Laser Communication Terminal (LCT)
TanDEM-X Mission Parameters:
Sponsor: DLR, GFZ, Infoterra (Germany)
Expected Life: 5 years
Primary Applications: research and applications
Primary SLR Application: precision orbit determination
COSPAR ID: 1003001
SIC Code: 6202
Satellite Catalog (NORAD) Number: 36605
Launch Date: 21-Jun-2010
NP Bin Size 5 seconds
RRA Diameter: 5 cm
RRA Shape: rectangular
Reflectors: 4 corner cubes
Orbit: polar-synchronous
Inclination: 98 degrees
Eccentricity: 0
Perigee: 514 km
Period: 11 days
Weight: 1,230 kg

Additional Information:

Web sites:


  • Arnold, D., Montenbruck, O.., Hackel, S., and K. Sosnica (2019), "Satellite laser ranging to low Earth orbiters: orbit and network validation", J. Geodesy: 93(11), pp. 2315-2334, DOI: 10.1007/s00190-018-1140-4.
  • Hackel, S., Gisinger, C., Balss, U., Wermuth, M., and O. Montenbruck (2018), "Long-Term Validation of TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X Orbit Solutions with Laser and Radar Measurements", Remote Sensing, 10(5), 762, DOI: 10.3390/rs10050762
  • Rizzoli, P., Martone, M., Gonzalez, C., et al. (2017), "Generation and performance assessment of the global TanDEM-X digital elevation model", ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 132, pp. 119-139, DOI: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2017.08.008
  • Krieger, K., Zink M., Bachmann, M., et al. (2013), "TanDEM-X: A radar interferometer with two formation-flying satellites", Acta Astronautica, 89, pp. 83-98, DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2013.03.008
  • Krieger, K., Moreira A., Fieldler, H., Hajnsek, I., Werner, M., Younis, M., and M. Zin (2007), "TanDEM-X: A Satellite Formation for High-Resolution SAR Interferometry", IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 45(11), 3317 - 3341, DOI: 10.1109/TGRS.2007.900693