Satellite images to facilitate rescue work in Haiti

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Washington, Jan. 15 (ANI): The powerful earthquake that struck the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince this week may have made current maps suddenly out of date, obstructing relief and rescue efforts, but earth observation satellite images are proving to be helpful by providing updated views of how the landscape and the infrastructure have been affected.

Following the event, the French Civil Protection authorities, the Public Safety of Canada, the American Earthquake Hazards Programme of USGS and the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti have requested for satellite data of the area from the International Charter on 'Space and Major Disasters'.

The initiative, referred to as 'The Charter', is aimed at providing satellite data free of charge to those affected by disasters anywhere in the world.

To meet the requirements of the rescue teams in Haiti, Very High Resolution imagery is needed from both optical and radar sensors.

Through the Charter, the international space community is acquiring satellite imagery as quickly as possible.

Currently, data are being collected by various satellites including Japan's ALOS, CNES's Spot-5, the U.S.'s WorldView and QuickBird, Canada's RADARSAT-2 and ESA's ERS-2 and Envisat.

Satellite imagery acquired immediately after the event are used to generate emergency maps to provide rescue services with an overview of the current state of the area.

These can be compared with situation maps generated from archived satellite data to identify major changes on the ground caused by the disaster.

Comparison of the maps from before and after the event allows areas that have been hit hardest to be distinguished and identify passable routes for relief and rescue workers.

Additionally, they can help to identify areas which are suitable for setting up aid camps where medical support and shelter can be provided to people. (ANI)

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