In 1999, an international consortium of space agencies formed the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ as a mechanism to provide satellite data to evaluate disaster impacts in support of disaster relief worldwide. Since the Charter’s formation in 1999, its membership has grown to 15 space organizations managing more than 20 Earth-observing satellites. The data from these satellites have helped emergency managers worldwide to deal with a variety of natural and man-made disasters.
The USGS is an active member, drawing on Federal and commercial data to support Charter needs. Archived and real-time satellite data acquisitions have proven useful to disaster management agencies, international relief organizations, and the science community at large. The Charter has been activated more than 400 times in response to earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, weather-related catastrophes, and technological problems (such as oil and hazardous materials spills ).
Charter members, conscious of the need to improve Charter access globally, have adopted the principle of Universal Access: any national disaster management authority may submit requests to the Charter for emergency response, and the affected country need not be a Charter member.
Crisis map showing burn scars from the State Mine fire in Australia. This product was created during the first Charter activation by a non-member Authorized User, GeoScience Australia. The Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) image was provided to the Charter through DMC International Imaging (DMCii).