RADARSAT-2 data contributes to a new understanding of Antarctic terrain

Longueuil, Quebec, August 18, 2011 – Imagery acquired from the Canadian satellite RADARSAT-2 has enabled the landmark discoveries announced today by University of California (UCI) researchers.

Previously unmapped glaciers of Antarctica have been charted by accessing imagery collected from Canadian, European and Japanese satellites. Using National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) technology, the researchers have discovered unique terrain features that indicate the direction and velocity of ice in Antarctica. This will provide invaluable insight into ice melt and future sea rise due to climate change.

The full continental coverage of Antarctica was made possible due to the unique capabilities of RADARSAT-2 to image left and capture data and information over the central part of the continent. This capability allowed the capture of data over the full land mass, from South Pole to coast, imagery that is at the heart of the discovery made by the UCI researchers.

Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Steve MacLean states, "I am thrilled that RADARSAT-2's imagery has proven so vital to the work of the UCI researchers. Moreover, it represents another milestone in a legacy started by RADARSAT-1, which produced the first high-resolution map of Antarctica in 1997."

RADARSAT-2's Antarctic imagery will not be restricted to UCI researchers alone, and will contribute more broadly to the scientific community's monitoring of the ice sheet, the exploration of the land below it and the assessment of the coastal environments of the continent.

This endeavour was coordinated by the International Polar Year (IPY) Space Task Group and was only possible through the collective effort of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mission Coordination Group. International contributors include the CSA, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

An animation is available on NASA's website.

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