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RADARSAT 1000m resolution map of Canada

RADARSAT is a Canadian remote sensing Earth observation satellite program overseen by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The program has consisted of:



The RADARSAT-1 project consisted of collaboration between the Canadian federal government and provinces, the United States, and the private sector.[2] RADARSAT-1 was launched by NASA on November 4, 1995, although it was owned and controlled by the Canadian Space Agency. The project had a projected lifetime of 5 years, but operated for 18 years before failing in 2013.[3] The goal of this project was to produce a satellite for earth observation by way of a Synthetic Aperture Radar, which is an advanced radar sensor and powerful microwave instrument capable of producing high quality images of the Earth during day or night and across a wide range of weather conditions including cloud cover, smoke, and haze.[2] As a result of the versatility of RADARSAT-1, it has proven highly beneficial to both commercial and scientific users.[2]


RADARSAT-2 was constructed with several improvements over the RADARSAT-1 project, making it one of the most advanced radar imaging satellites in the world.[4] Some of the improvements over RADARSAT-1 include increased spatial resolution, multiple polarization filters, solid state recorders, and GPS receivers on board.[4]

RADARSAT Constellation[edit]

Main article: RADARSAT Constellation

RADARSAT Constellation was constructed in order to make improvements on the previous model (RADARSAT-2). This rendition will use a constellation of three small satellites to provide greater coverage while minimizing service interruptions. This system allows for one of the three satellites to pass over an exact location every 4 days in comparison to the 24 day time frame of its predecessors. RADARSAT Constellation has an orbit around Earth at 600km making a full pass every 96 minutes with each of the three satellites separated by a span of 32 minutes.[5] The mission aims to aide with disaster management as well as monitor ecosystems.[6]

RADARSAT International[edit]

RADARSAT International (RSI) was formed in 1989 to market, process, and distribute data from RADARSAT-1. It was owned by a consortium of aerospace companies consisting of MDA, Spar Aerospace, COM DEV International, and Lockheed Martin.

RSI provided Earth-observation data and derived information products from RADARSAT-1 along with data from other commercially available Earth-observation satellites including Landsat 4, Landsat 5, Landsat 7, IKONOS, IRS, ERS, QuickBird, and ENVISAT.[7]

In 1999, MDA completed a buyout of the other RSI shareholders and incorporated the company as MDA Geospatial Services Inc. (MDA GSI), a wholly owned subsidiary.[8]

MDA GSI holds the operating license for RADARSAT-2 under contract from the Canadian Space Agency.[citation needed]

Main users of RADARSAT data[edit]

The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) is one of the largest processors of the RADARSAT data.[9] Once the CIS has processed the data at the Canadian Center for Data Processing (CCTD) in Gatineau, Quebec, it is then provided to clients such as the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). Since RADARSAT data is readily available in near-real time, it is one of the best source of information to use for coastal monitoring, ship detection and maritime ice navigation.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Soyuz rocket lifts Canadian radar satellite into space". CBC News. 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  2. ^ a b c media, Government of Canada, Canadian Space Agency, Directions of communications, Information services and new (2005-11-04). "RADARSAT-1". Canadian Space Agency website. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  3. ^ "RADARSAT-1 | Science Mission Directorate". science.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  4. ^ a b media, Government of Canada, Canadian Space Agency, Directions of communications, Information services and new (2007-11-29). "Built for performance and versatility". Canadian Space Agency website. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  5. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions - RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM)". www.asc-csa.gc.ca. 2018-07-06. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  6. ^ "RADARSAT Constellation - eoPortal Directory - Satellite Missions". directory.eoportal.org. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  7. ^ "RADARSAT International". Directions Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
  8. ^ "MacDonald Dettwiler to Acquire Radarsat International". Archived from the original on 2006-05-06. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
  9. ^ Flett, D. G.; Manore, M. J.; Ramsay, B. R.; Falkingham, J. C. (2001-01-01). Preparing for operational use of RADARSAT-2 data at the Canadian Ice Service. IGARSS 2001. Scanning the Present and Resolving the Future. Proceedings. IEEE 2001 International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (Cat. No.01CH37217). 1. pp. 493–495 vol.1. doi:10.1109/IGARSS.2001.976200. ISBN 978-0-7803-7031-9.
  10. ^ Ramsay, B.; Manore, M.; Weir, L.; Wilson, K.; Bradley, D. (1998-03-01). "Use of Radarsat Data in the Canadian Ice Service". Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 24 (1): 36–42. Bibcode:1998CaJRS..24...36R. doi:10.1080/07038992.1998.10874689. ISSN 0703-8992.

External links[edit]