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Radarsat 1



The Radar Satellite (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. The spacecraft was 3-axis controlled to 0.1 degrees by reaction wheels, magnetometers, magnetotorquers, and Earth and sun sensors. Altitude was maintained by hydrazine thrusters. The rigid SPAR solar arrays of twin 5-panel wings provided power supported by three 50 Ahr SAFT NiCd batteries. The payload module consisted of the SAR radar system, two tape recorders, the SAR antenna, payload computer, and the downlink transmitter. The SAR antenna, provided by Spar Aerospace and Canadian Astronautics, was stored in four sections and, when deployed, was 1.5 x 15 meters. The two Odetics on-board tape recorders stored 15 minutes of data at 85 Mbps. The spacecraft followed a sun-synchronous orbit with equatorial crossings in the ascending node maintained at 6:00 p.m. local time. The RADARSAT orbit provided repeat coverage of most of Canada every 72 hours. The mission life was expected to be five years.

Alternate Names

  • 23710
  • Radar Satellite
  • Radarsat1

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1995-11-04
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States
Mass: 2713 kg
Nominal Power: 2500 W

Funding Agencies

  • Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (Canada)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Earth Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. W. Vernon JonesProgram ManagerNASA
Dr. Joseph L. McNallyProject DirectorCanadian Space Agency
Mr. Robert C. ThomasProgram ScientistNASA Headquarters
Mr. S. AhmedProgram ManagerCanadian Space Agency-Radarsat Project Office
Mr. E. J. LanghamProject DirectorCanadian Space Agency-Radarsat Project Office

Selected References

  • Raney, R. K., et al., RADARSAT, IEEE Proc., 79, No. 6, 839-849, June 1991.
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