February 13, 2023

Turkey, first images of the earthquake by the Pleiades satellites

The images acquired by the Pleiades satellites under the Charter show the extent of the damage and are used to produce documented maps that are very useful to rescue teams in assessing and locating the destruction.

CNES coordinated the programming of French satellites in order to provide images of disaster areas as quickly as possible.
On the front page, a heavily damaged area of the city of Antakya (formerly Antioch), Hatay province, located in the extreme south of Turkey.
For comparison, the image below shows the neighborhood before the earthquake (the angles of the shots are not identical).

Below is the documented map of the damage in the city of Kirikhan, near the border with Syria. The map was produced by SERTIT (University of Strasbourg) in the framework of the Copernicus program from data acquired by Pleiades satellites.
Red dots indicate totally destroyed buildings, orange dots indicate badly damaged buildings and yellow dots indicate partially damaged buildings. Also shown are the blocked roads (red circle with a black cross) and the places where the inhabitants have taken refuge (white circles).


Before/after: Detail in the city of Kahramanmaras, a city located in southern Turkey in the Mediterranean region, close to the epicenter of the earthquake. In addition to the collapsed buildings, note the white tents of the inhabitants who have taken refuge on the lawn of the stadium. They also find refuge in the cars parked on the avenues or parking lots.

Reminder on the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters

Proposed in 1999 by CNES and ESA, joined by CSA (Canadian Space Agency), the Charter was signed in October 2000.

A unique example of successful international cooperation, operating in 24/7 mode, the Charter now combines and coordinates the Earth observation resources and expertise of 17 space agencies. Its objective is to respond to requests from crisis management organizations in countries affected by disasters, local authorities, civil security, and the United Nations, by providing satellite data free of charge, thanks to the programming of a constellation of more than 270 satellites, in priority mode over disaster areas, in order to provide rapid assistance to the rescue teams involved.

Since its implementation, the Charter has recorded 798 activations in 131 countries, half of which were in response to flooding or coastal flooding events and half in response to storms, cyclones, earthquakes, fires, volcanic eruptions, landslides, oil spills, and even industrial accidents.

Through universal access, adopted in 2012, more than 90 countries can directly submit activation requests as authorized users. In parallel, the Charter is providing a training program to new countries. UNITAR/UNOSAT and UNOOSA, UN organizations can submit requests for support from non-authorized user countries.


Emilie BRONNER, CNES representative at the Secretariat of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters
Email : emilie.bronner at cnes.fr

Linda TOMASINI, CNES representative at the Board of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters
Email : linda.tomasini at cnes.fr