Five years of Canadian involvement in Charter for monitoring disasters

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2005

Longueuil, Quebec, October 5, 2005 – The Canadian Space Agency is actively taking part in a meeting to mark the fifth year of operations for the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters.

Members of the Charter who are meeting in Bangalore, India, are reviewing the capabilities of remote sensing that support global disaster management using actual cases over the five-year period. There will be a special focus on the response of the Charter to the tsunami in Southeast Asia and hurricane Katrina. The Members are also looking at operational aspects such as lessons learned and effectiveness, while outlining improvements and the direction of the Charter.

About the Charter

The Charter originated as a cooperation initiative between founding members with the aim of providing ready access to value-added Earth observation satellite data to countries or communities whose populations have been exposed to risk, or affected by a natural or man-made disaster.

The Charter offers to emergency-measures organizations an integrated response to rapidly assess and mitigate disasters. The unique system for emergency management developed by the partners has been activated over 100 times since November 2000, responding to floods, fires, landslides, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, oil spills, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and civil accidents the world over.

With quick response times of 38 to 48 hours and highly reliable data, the Charter has responded effectively and has enhanced the delivery of space data to assist rescue and humanitarian relief efforts.

The Charter in Action

A recent example of the Charter's impact is the response to the 2004 tsunami in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand. Some 200 passive (electro-optical) and active (synthetic aperture radar) sensor images acquired from satellites owned or operated by Charter members were processed and an equally large number of image products were delivered to assist the countries.

For hurricane Katrina, Charter activation provided space data on levee breaching and floodwaters in New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Flooding was extensive, with 80% of the city and Gulf coast and the Mississippi under six metres of water on August 31.

The Charter Members

The Charter was drafted by the founding members at the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) in 1999. Many organizations have joined the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and France's Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES) to offer their valuable and diverse capabilities and technical resources: the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Argentina's National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and, most recently, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the British National Space Centre (BNSC).

The United Nations, through its Office of Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) became a cooperating body in 2004, to promote the Charter as a gateway for United Nations agencies that respond to natural disasters and emergencies.

For more information on the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters and images related to various disasters, please visit: or

For more information:

Nicholas Girard
Media Relations
Canadian Space Agency
Telephone: (450) 926-4370


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