14.03.2011 - UNESCO SC / Remote Sensing

Satellites to assist the Japanese authorities

Satellite images of Natori, Japan: before (left, 04/04/2010) and after (right, 12/03/2011). © GeoEye

When a natural disaster occurs, such as like the massive earthquake that struck off the north-east coast of Honshu followed by a strong Tsunami, it is urgent to know the areas affected by the disaster, the current condition of the access roads as well as to identify areas where the population can be relocated safely.
It is precisely in these areas where satellite images become extremely useful to support the post disaster decision making process.

Using satellite images from the existing archive to know the situation before-disaster and activating the satellites to acquire new images post-disaster, it is then possible to combine both sources of information in order to answer the most critical questions to assess the overall damages and to assist the population under distress.

Related links

  • The New York Time publishes before/after images with GeoEye
    The New York Times web site shows a series of ‘before’ and ‘after’ images of areas affected by the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. Please allow some time for the images to load and then put the cursor over the vertical line and drag the vertical slider.
  • Pacific Tsunami Warning System
    A Pacific-wide tsunami warning issued after an earthquake struck Japan on March 11th has now been cancelled. However, the Organization continues to follow the situation closely via the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, established by UNESCO and the Pacific Rim states in the 1960s.
  • Charter Space and Major Disasters
    A large number of space agencies have come together to establish the International Charter Space and Major Disasters. Through this Charter, authorized users can activate the Charter which implies that each space agency member of the Charter will start obtaining satellite images of the areas affected.

    This is a unique international example of social corporate responsibility where each space agency, under its own cost, makes everything possible to obtain data to assist in better understanding the effects of the disaster.
  • Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
    JAXA is a space partner of UNESCO that generously assists in the monitoring of World Heritage sites. JAXA is a valuable UNESCO space partner, and our thought in these difficult moments go to our friends from JAXA and their families. JAXA facilities have also been affected by the earthquake.

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