Surface Deformation and Change (SDC)

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Deformation measurements, such as Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (InSAR), are an important tool for understanding the dynamics of earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, glaciers, groundwater and the deep interior; for quantifying the rates and driving processes of sea-level change and landscape change; and for supporting hazard forecasts and disaster impact assessments.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) 2017 Decadal Survey, “Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observations from Space,” recommended a new NASA “Designated” program element to address a set of five high-value Targeted or Designated Observables during the next decadal period. In response to that recommendation, and based on guidance from NASA’s Earth Science Division, a multi-center study team was assembled to perform studies associated with the cost-capped Surface Deformation and Change (SDC) Targeted Observable. The SDC Study has three main objectives: 

  1. Identify and characterize a diverse set of observing architectures, including innovative observing systems that have the potential for disrupting the norm for SDC observations.
  2. Assess the ability of each of the architectures to meet SDC objectives, including cost effectiveness.
  3. Perform sufficient in-depth design study of one selected architecture to enable rapid initiation of a Phase A concept study.

To accomplish these objectives, the study team will harness national expertise in Earth science research, applications, technology, mission formulation and implementation. The team comprises all NASA centers with relevant expertise and engages major stakeholder organizations in government, academia and industry. The SDC study started in October 2018 and will end in September 2023. At the end of this study, it is anticipated that documents to hold a Mission Concept Review will be generated for one selected architecture. NASA Headquarters will use the capabilities assessed through this study to prepare the announcement of opportunity and requirements for a future mission. 




SNWG Radar Workshop (March 17 & July 7-8, 2020)

NASA/USGS-sponsored program workshop, held on behalf of the U.S. Group on Earth Observations, Satellite Needs Working Group (SNWG).


SATM WebEx (June 26, 2020)

A community telecon to acquire user feedback on the Solid Earth & Geohazards Science and Applications Traceability Matrix (SATM) for NASA’s Surface Deformation and Change Designated Observable study was held June 26, 2020, via WebEx.


European Space Research Institute (ESRIN) (May 27-29, 2020)

Ad hoc meeting of 2018 SAR Workshop participants to follow up on communications over the past year.


NASA Surface Deformation and Change (SDC) Research & Applications Virtual Workshop / 2020 NextGen Airborne SAR Workshop (May 19-21, 2020) - Virtual WebEx Workshop

NASA SDC Research & Applications (May 19, 2020)
2020 NextGen Airborne SAR Workshop (May 20-21, 2020)


IGARSS Workshop (July 30, 2019)

Location: Yokohama, Japan
“NASA’s Next Generation Surface Deformation and Change Observing System Architecture,” presented by Dr. Paul Rosen, Study Coordinator, NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar mission, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Current Science and Applications Traceability Matrix (SATM)

Coming soon.


Related events

SDC Focus Groups

As part of the Study, four focus groups are currently refining the SDC-related science and applications goals in their respective disciplines. The groups are listed below with the names of their moderators. If you are interested, have any questions on the work of the focus groups please contact the moderators.



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Schedule for studies underway

SDC top schedule 20190815.jpg
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Paul A. Rosen

Batu Osmanoglu