Mount Etna mapped by radar satellites

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Two German radar satellites flying in tight formation above the Earth have returned their first combined images.

TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X are circling the globe just 350m apart as they get set to make the most detailed 3D map of the Earth's surface ever acquired.

Their close proximity allows them to view the same patch of ground simultaneously but from slightly different angles.

This remarkable stereo vision has been demonstrated in an image of Mount Etna.

The German space agency (DLR) said on Tuesday that the picture was the first of its kind to be made by satellites flying in such a close formation.

It shows the Italian volcano on the east coast of Sicily. On the left of the image, in the foothills of the volcano, the city of Catania is visible as a collection of white points.

This 3D view of the mountain was generated from data recorded by TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X in their new interferometric mode in which one spacecraft acts as a transmitter/receiver and the other as a second receiver - a so-called bistatic radar arrangement....

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