Canadian Geographic
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Canada from Space


The first Earth-observation satellite was a weather satellite called TIROS 1 (Television and Infra-Red Observation Satellite), launched from Cape Canaveral on April 1, 1960. Equipped with two compact television cameras, the satellite provided for the first time the bird’s-eye view of cloud patterns and storm movement that we’re now familiar with – and promptly proved its worth by detecting a previously unnoticed cyclone off the coast of Australia. The first satellite devoted to monitoring land rather than the atmosphere was NASA’s Landsat 1, launched in 1972 to follow up the stunning photos of the earth taken during the Apollo moon missions.

The first Landsat 1 image, covering the Texas cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, was downloaded to a satellite receiving station in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, using a processing system developed by a fledgling Vancouver-based company called MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA). Canada launched its own dedicated Earth-observation satellite, RADARSAT-1, in November 1995. The imaging system on RADARSAT-1 was designed to operate at a frequency that is particularly well-suited to distinguishing between different types of snow and ice – a crucial tool for remote monitoring of northern lands. A successor, RADARSAT-2, was launched in December 2007.



This slide show contains four images that follow the history of earth-observing satellites. Three of the images show different satellites launched in 1960, 1962 and 1995. The fourth image shows a cyclone photographed from space.


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Quiz :

What is the frequency of the RADARSAT-1 radar signal?