Canadian Geographic
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Canada from Space


The successor to RADARSAT-1 was launched on a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan in December 2007. RADARSAT-2 follows the exact same path as RADARSAT-1, completing 14 orbits each day around the North and South poles at an altitude of 798 kilometres. This ensures continuity of data when RADARSAT-1 is eventually decommissioned: in order to accurately determine how properties like glacier and forest cover or coastline erosion are changing from year to year, it’s important to compare images taken from the same orbital location under similar conditions.

RADARSAT-2 features several improvements compared to its predecessor. The smallest features its state-of-the-art synthetic aperture radar can resolve are just 3 metres across, compared to 8 metres for RADARSAT-1. It also has the ability to operate in different polarization modes. Polarization refers to whether the high-frequency radar signal is oscillating in a horizontal or vertical direction as it travels between the satellite and the ground. By combining horizontal and vertical signals, RADARSAT-2 is able to provide four different polarization modes (compared to just one for RADARSAT-1), each of which offers slightly different information about the features of the land, water or ice being imaged.


On the next page:

RADARSAT Constellation

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Quiz :

Where was the first Landsat 1 image received?

Montréal, QC
Prince Albert, SK
Dallas, TX