The Infoterra/TerraSAR initiative started as an industrial concept to provide X- and L-band SAR data products from a pair of spacecraft in Sun-synchronous orbit. The mission was proposed by the BNSC and DLR for implementation as an element of the ESA’s Earth Watch programme. The X-band element evolved into a German national programme
between DLR and Astrium GmbH, whereas the TerraSAR-L System has become the subject of a phase B consolidation study led by Astrium Ltd. in the UK and involves companies in several other ESA member states.
The TerraSAR-L System comprises a single spacecraft carrying a large, fully polarimetric L-band SAR, and a ground segment architecture that will re-use existing facilities and technologies as much as possible. The service segment, sized to meet the mission’s requirements, complements this. Besides having a commercial role for the provision of geoinformation products, the TerraSAR-L System will serve the scientific user community, particularly with regard to Earth science use, and for contributions to the GMES initiative. Specification of the L-SAR instrument and ground segment performances has been guided by careful analysis of the product requirements so as to meet the user
communities’ needs without over-design of the hardware.
Extensive trade-off studies have proven that the L-band spacecraft should adopt the innovative 'Snapdragon’ configuration, minimizing technical risk and cost whilst offering comfortable design margins. The TerraSAR Consolidation has commenced and will involve a wide industrial community in the specification and definition for the
TerraSAR-L System. Key instrument and Snapdragon risk reduction activities are well advanced under ESA contract, with completion expected in 2004.