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.