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SAR - Lupe

This picture shows the satellite concept consisting of five identical satellites in three orbits.

Satellite concept consisting of five identical satellites in three orbits (Source: OHB-System AG)Größere Abbildung anzeigen

Satellites as carriers of optical or radar sensors can – unlike aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles – carry out reconnaissance operations without infringing sovereign rights. They are thus particularly suited to gather information, without escalating effect, about early crisis detection and prevention and about effective crisis management. Compared to optical satellites, radar satellites have the advantage that they can carry out reconnaissance tasks irrespective of the time of day or the prevailing weather.

The SAR Lupe (Synthetic Aperture Radar) concept is based on five identical radar satellites on three offset polar orbits in a height of approximately 500 kilometers. Due to the physical mode of operation of a synthetic aperture radar each of the five satellites can provide stripmap and spotlight imagery modes. These radars are side-looking radars that can take images to the left and right of their orbit (not simultaneously, though). The constellation of the five satellites ensures that there are no gaps between the areas under surveillance.

The ground station consists of a satellite and a user ground segment. The satellite ground segment includes satellite control, data reception and image processing, the user ground segment is made up of the elements task management / control, image analysis and archiving.

Between December 2006 and July 2008, the satellites were launched by COSMOS-3M rockets into their orbit from the Russian spaceport Plesetsk.
The system has been fully operational since 25 September 2008.

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SAR Lupe/HELIOS II System Network

Germany and France have integrated their space-based reconnaissance systems SAR Lupe (German radar satellite system) and Helios II (French optical satellite system) into the “SAR Lupe/Helios II system network”. Thus, within the context of mutually agreed rights of use, Germany has access to French optical images and France, in return, to German radar images.

The beginnings of this network date back to the year 2002. At the time, the ministers of defense of France and Germany signed a first treaty on the conduct of coordinated studies which served as a basis for the reconnaissance network. As of 2006, the SAR Lupe adjustment and a SAR Lupe ground segment for France were implemented by the OHB System AG which is located in Bremen.

At the same time, the French procurement organization procured a ground segment in order to enable Germany to receive and process Helios images.

The work required for establishing the system network was concluded in mid-2010 which could thus be released for operational use.

The system network will end as soon as the satellites are no longer operational. Both nations are already working on respective successor systems, however.

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Current as of 11/27/14