Innovative SAR mission for environmental and climate research

Tandem-L is a proposal for a highly innovative satellite mission for the global observation of dynamic processes on Earth’s surface with unprecedented quality and resolution. Due to its novel imaging techniques and enormous recording capacity, Tandem-L will provide urgently needed information for addressing pressing scientific questions in the areas of the biosphere, geosphere, cryosphere and hydrosphere. Tandem-L will make a vital contribution towards a better understanding of the Earth system and its dynamics.

Important mission objectives are the global measurement of forest biomass and its temporal variations for a better understanding of the carbon cycle, the systematic recording of deformations of the Earth’s surface in the millimetre range for earthquake research and risk analysis, the quantification of glacier movements and melting processes in the polar regions, the precise measurement of variations in near-surface soil moisture, as well as observations of the dynamics of sea surfaces and ice drift. Tandem-L will measure seven key climate variables simultaneously as part of its mission and contribute to the global monitoring of climate protection agreements such as the UNEP REDD+ programme.

Tandem-L is the result of several preliminary studies carried out in recent years under the leadership of DLR, with a team of over 150 scientists working in close cooperation with the German space industry. The mission concept, based on two highly innovative SAR satellites in a tandem formation, would enable global, three-dimensional imaging of Earth’s surface at weekly intervals, as well as tomographic recording of vegetation and ice layers.

In times of intensive scientific and public debate regarding the extent and impact of climate change, Tandem-L would provide important information, which is currently unavailable, to enable improved scientific predictions and recommendations for socio-political action.


German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Microwaves and Radar Institute
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alberto Moreira · Email Alberto.Moreira@dlr.de