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Saving lives from space

(BBC) From Hurricane Katrina to the Japanese tsunami – satellite images are increasingly playing an important role during rescue efforts after natural or man-made disasters. The images, often taken minutes after devastation has occurred, help pinpoint people and places at risk.

A formal system of sharing information by space agencies was agreed in 1999, with the creation of the Disasters Charter. Since then, the charter has helped provide data for more than 300 disasters, in more than 100 countries.

Here – to mark World Space Week 2012 – Dr Alice Bunn from the UK Space Agency looks at how the images, taken many hundreds of miles above the planet, are being used to save lives.


All images copyright DMCii Ltd and Envisat/ESA. Click bottom right for image information.
Music by KPM Music. Slideshow by Paul Kerley. Publication date 8 October 2012.


Disasters Charter
UK Space Agency
World Space Week