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N° 3–2000: ERS and SPOT satellites to the rescue

12 January 2000

The devastation caused in parts of Europe by recent storms is being surveyed using the radar and optical observation satellites ERS and SPOT of the European Space Agency and the French national space agency CNES.

In the aftermath of the two violent storms that swept through France and Germany between December 26 and 28, two ERS satellites and three SPOT satellites are providing day-to-day information on the disaster-struck areas.

By comparing the new images with historical data, an assessment can be made of the extent of damages sustained by forests in these areas. The results are made available for use by regional, national and European-level decision-makers (both private and government) to draw up an overall inventory of the damages. In France, for example, Earth observation experts are assisting forestry representatives under an emergency programme set up by the Forestry and Rural Management Authority of the French Agriculture Ministry. User requests for satellite image data are being handled by Spot Image.

The response of ESA and CNES to this emergency is a direct result of the commitment they made on 22 July 1999 at the Unispace III conference, pledging to provide rapid, useful satellite data during natural catastrophes. This kind of assistance has been given on several occasions in recent months: the August 1999 earthquake in Turkey stands out, along with the flooding in the Aude region of France in November, the oil spill off the French Atlantic coast in December and the catastrophic floods in Venezuela.

For information contact:



- Spot Image


Inquiries from the press should be addressed to:

ESA Franco Bonacina Tél.:

CNES Sandra Laly-Jordan Tél:

SPOT IMAGE Anne-Marie Bernard Tél: