Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Eye in the Sky

Latest Canadian SAR satellite delivers higher resolution, more flexibility
© Canadian Space Agency and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates
RADARSAT-2 is a second-generation Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite with a number of advancements, including three-meter ultra-fine beam for high-resolution imaging and increased data storage.
A RADARSAT-2 image of Greenland.
© Canadian Space Agency and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates
A RADARSAT-2 image of Greenland.

By Barry Hochfelder


  • Ice. Multi-polarization options improve ice-edge detection and distinguish different types of ice, ice topography and structure.
  • Marine surveillance. Oil and gas exploration and production have intensified over the years. Acquired data assists operational applications that help assess the ocean's resources and risks.
  • Disaster management. Data has been used in responses to disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, forest fires and others. The ability to deliver data in near-real time is essential.
  • Hydrology. Radar imagery is well-suited for these applications because the SAR is so sensitive to surface roughness and water. Its polarimetric capabilities enhance soil moisture measurement and snow pack monitoring and analysis.
  • Mapping. This covers a broad range of activities, including the creation of Digital Elevation Models and the diction and mapping of centimeter-scale movements of the earth's surface.
  • Geology. Ultra-fine resolution and polarimetric capabilities allow more detailed mapping of terrain features or fine geological structures and better identification of structural features.
  • Agriculture. Satellite imagery is an efficient method for mapping crop characteristics over large spatial areas and racking temporal changes in soil and crop conditions.
  • Forestry. The various beam modes and polarimetric capabilities help detect structural differences in forests.

RADARSAT-2 took lessons learned from RADARSAT-1 and provides improved ground segment hardware and software to help increase speed of response.

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