U.K. Space Agency Heading Disaster Response Network

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The U.K. Space Agency took over the rotating leadership of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters May 11, chairing the international network for the next six months. The group had been under the leadership of the U.S. Geological Survey, which operates the nation’s Landsat satellites.

The charter is an international effort to task Earth observation satellites to rapidly provide data following a crisis.

The charter was activated 50 times in 2010 and 12 times so far in 2011, the most recent being in response to the widespread flooding that struck the central and Midwestern United States in late April.

The U.K.-built Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) is a key contributor to the charter. The DMC’s five satellites were built by the U.K.’s Surrey Satellite technology Ltd., and are owned individually by Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The DMC, which is operated by the U.K.’s DMC International Imaging Ltd., can acquire satellite images of anywhere on the Earth at least once a day.