Spearheaded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Government of Canada’s (GC’s) RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) builds on decades of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) research, innovation, and expertise in Earth observations (EO), remote sensing, satellite ground station operations and big geospatial data management.
Find out how NRCan is supporting the RCM in this video:
Radar Remote Sensing Science
Since 1972, the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) has played a critical role in advancing satellite-based radar remote sensing, first through experimentation with radar sensors on planes, and then as a critical partner supporting Canadian EO satellite missions, RADARSAT-1 (1995–2013) and RADARSAT-2 (2007–present).
Working with GC partners, CCRS scientists have contributed to the RCM by:
- Introducing and evaluating new imaging modes, i.e. compact polarimetry,
- building a data simulator so users can test proxy RCM data in applications before satellite launch,
- developing world-class calibration methods,
- building new systems that pre-process RCM data making it easier for users to extract relevant information from the expected large volumes of satellite data, and
- advancing the use of radar data to monitor permafrost, critical infrastructure, water, wetlands, and natural hazards (e.g. floods, earthquakes, landslides).
Canada’s Satellite Ground Segment
Starting with a single ground station in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1972, NRCan’s Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI) Division manages operations at Canada’s network of three satellite ground station facilities, which receive, manage and store the huge volumes of radar data collected from RADARSAT and other satellites. These NRCan stations also transmit commands to the satellites to control and task them. This important NRCan network will be responsible for acquiring and distributing RCM data to downstream users within and outside the federal government.
This new three-satellite constellation is expected to collect 50 times more data than Canada’s first mission, RADARSAT-1. To prepare for this new huge data stream, CGDI led significant upgrades to all three-ground stations in Inuvik, NWT, Prince Albert, SK and Gatineau, QC, and created a robust Earth Observation Data Management System (EODMS) for Canadians to discover and download RADARSAT and other EO data.
CGDI will also play a critical role in providing satellite launch support for RCM, tracking and supporting the satellites in the low earth orbit phase (LEOP) – one of the most critical phases of the mission, which can take 7 to 10 days.