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Radar Satellite (RADARSAT)

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Status: Completed
Mission Category: Other
Launch Date: November 4, 1995
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA

Canada's Radar Satellite (RADARSAT) is a radar satellite featuring variable resolution, and different view angles at a number of preset positions. This sophisticated remote sensing satellite is a Canadian-led project involving the United States. It will carry a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a powerful microwave instrument that can transmit and receive signals to see through clouds and darkness, obtaining detailed images of the Earth. This will provide significant advantages in viewing under conditions that preclude observation by aircraft or optical satellites. RADARSAT collects data on resource management, ice, ocean and environmental monitoring and Arctic and off-shore surveillance. RADARSAT also supports fishing, shipping, oil exploration, offshore drilling and ocean research. The RADARSAT provides complete global coverage with the flexibility to support specific requirements.

The RADARSAT was a joint Canada (Canadian Space Agency/Canada Center for Remote Sensing) and United States (NASA) project. RADARSAT was designed to provide detailed information on sea ice and terrestrial ice sheets for climate research, to produce radar imagery for geographical applications in oceanography, agriculture, forestry, hydrology, and geology, and to provide real-time products for arctic ocean navigation including ice surveillance. RADARSAT was also designed to provide data products for commercial applications such as fishing, shipping, oil exploration, offshore oil drilling, and resource managment. RADARSAT carried an advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operating at 5.3 GHz (C-band). The RADARSAT spacecraft consisted of two major components: the spacecraft bus and the payload module. The spacecraft bus, built by Ball Aerospace, consisted of the structure power units, solar arrays, attitude control, propulsion deck, and telemetry, tracking, and command systems.

Key Radar Satellite Facts

Mission/Portal Page:
Origination: Joint with Canada
Instruments: SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar)
Project Scientist(s): Robert C. Thomas

Relevant Science Focus Areas:

  • Carbon Cycle, Ecosystems, and Biogeochemistry
  • Weather

Relevant Science Questions:

  • How is the global Earth system changing?

Science Goals:

  • Agricultural Efficiency
  • Coastal Management
  • Water Management