Earth Observation Express

EO Express

1. RADARSAT-1: Seventeen Years of Technological Success

On March 29, 2013, Canada's first Earth Observation satellite, RADARSAT-1, experienced a technical anomaly after surpassing its expected lifetime by 12 years. In the days since, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) assembled a joint CSA-industry team of engineers, who conducted an extensive investigation. Following numerous attempts to resolve the technical issue, the CSA, in consultation with its commercial distributor MDA Geospatial Services Inc. (MDA GSI) has concluded that RADARSAT-1 is no longer operational after 17 years of outstanding service.

2. Coastal Surveillance and Monitoring: RADARSAT-2 Based Suspicious Vessel Monitoring System for Protecting Canadian Waters

Since September 2001, governments and armed forces around the world have been searching for a path forward in the greatly altered arena of national domestic security. Canada has one of the longest coastlines in the world, and hence maritime security is one of our highest priorities. Through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Earth Observation Applications and Development Program (EOADP), MDA Systems Ltd. (MDA) is developing the Suspicious Vessel Alert (SVA) services, which uses EO technologies to address Canada's priorities and the long term needs of several Federal government departments (CCG/DFO, CBSA, TC, RCMP and DND) concerned with illegal activities in coastal and inland water regions. The services will flag maritime vessel traffic that exhibits behavior outside of regular law-abiding vessel traffic. The benefits of SVA are that it enables automatic and continuous monitoring of a selected region of responsibility, and feeds suspicious vessel alerts to Marine Security Operations Centres (MSOC) operators, thereby helping them to focus their attention to a few vessels of interest instead of the thousands that would otherwise need to be manually checked. SVA takes into account both self-reporting (e.g. AIS) data, and independently gathered (e.g. satellite radar) data. The SVA services will support the critical operational needs of many government departments and agencies, especially in Canada's coastal approaches and the Arctic. For more information, please contact, and

3. Knowledge advantage: 15th Conference of the Association Québécois de Télédétection & Atelier sur l'eau, September 25–27, 2013, Rimouski

For Canada to be more productive and competitive, decision-makers, managers, scientists and professionals must be at the forefront of important developments in science and technology that will generate health, environmental, social and economic benefits. The 15th conference of the Association Québécoise de Télédétection (AQT) [Quebec Remote Sensing Association] will take place at the Hôtel Rimouski in Rimouski, Quebec, Canada, from September 25 to 27, 2013. The event, entitled "Surveillance et suivi des changements planétaires" [Monitoring and Tracking Planet Changes], is an opportunity to present and promote your Earth Observation (EO) activities, research work and application projects in various areas (agriculture, climate, cryosphere, ecosystems, disasters, energy, forestry, oceans, health, etc.). It will also provide an excellent opportunity to network with the EO community and players (universities, industry, government, etc.). On September 26, there will be a workshop entitled "L'eau : les applications d'OT: bénéfices environnementaux, économiques et sociétaux" [Water: the Environmental, Economic and Social Benefits of EO Applications]. The guest speakers will present their new EO tools (current and future satellites) to tackle issues arising today and in the future in various fields related to water. Theme papers will also be presented on both national and international aspects of the issue. To register, visit the Web sites for the conference and the workshop). The Canadian Space Agency is involved in organizing the event in partnership with universities, industry and federal and provincial departments. The following organizations will be participating in the workshop on September 26: AERDE Environmental Research, Agence universitaire de la francophonie, Astrium, Canadian Space Agency, Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas [Centre for the Advanced Study of Arid Zones], Centre national d'études spatiales [French National Centre for Space Studies], Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, Digital Globe, Effigis Geo-Solutions, Environment Canada, Eurisy, European Space Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Hydro-Québec, INRS-ETE, International Centre for Advanced Research on Global Change, Laval University, MDA, NASA, Ouranos, Public Health Agency of Canada, Quebec Department of Public Security, Société de promotion économique de Rimouski [Rimouski Economic Development Corporation], St. Lawrence Global Observatory, Stratégies Saint-Laurent, UNESCO / World Water Day and the University of Sherbrooke. Information:

4. Canadian Effort Helps Users Get Ready for Sentinel-1

Those who need satellite data for a wide range of applications, from mapping sea ice and tracking maritime traffic to monitoring geohazards over land, are eagerly awaiting the launch of Sentinel-1 later this year. This particular satellite will provide timely high-quality radar images of our planet's surface to support operational services that use Earth observation (EO) data in areas such as emergency response, marine and land monitoring, civil security and climate studies. To complement initial release of test data, ESA is simulating Sentinel-1 acquisitions from space using Canada's RADARSAT-2 satellite. Thanks to McDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), RADARSAT-2 was carefully reprogrammed to match the way Sentinel-1 will be operated. A remarkable achievement is the fact that RADARSAT was able to emulate the way Sentinel-1 images Earth's surface using a method called TOPS, thus providing a quality of image almost exactly the same as Sentinel-1. The very first results are promising, as can be seen in the images acquired over Vancouver harbour. The acquisition of more images over specific test sites are planned to demonstrate the suitability of Sentinel-1 for classifying sea-ice, for applications using ocean winds and waves, and for detecting ships, thereby preparing users for the uptake of data. As for the current set of test data, the RADARSAT-2 simulated images will also be processed and formatted using the Sentinel-1 Instrument Processing Facility and made available to users shortly. Here is more information on sentinel-1.

5. Canadian Maritime Domestic Security: MDA to Continue Providing Operational Support to Canada's Broad-Area Maritime Surveillance System

MDA has announced on April 26th, 2013 that it has signed contracts totaling CA$3.2 million with the Government of Canada's Department of National Defence (DND) to provide operations for the east and west coast RADARSAT-2 ground systems that support the deliverables under the Polar Epsilon project, the broad-area surveillance system delivered by MDA to DND in 2012. In 2012, PWGSC on behalf of DND, awarded a one-year contract for operational support that included renewal options for an additional four years, the first of which was recently exercised. MDA will be providing operational support under this contract until March 2014. The Polar Epsilon surveillance system delivers space-based, day and night, all-weather maritime surveillance information of Canada's Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans and includes global high-resolution surveillance capabilities to support deployed Canadian Forces. For more information: MDA to continue providing operational support to Canada's broad-area maritime surveillance system (anglais seulement.

6. Disaster Risk Management in the Northwest Territories: River and lake Ice Monitoring using RADARSAT-2

In northern regions of Canada such as the Northwest Territories (NWT), river and lake ice is an important aspect of biological, hydrological, and cultural systems, as well as influencing economic development. For example, winter ice roads over lakes and rivers provide access and connect remote locations and communities that are otherwise inaccessible overland during ice-free periods. Earth Observation (EO) can provide valuable information on ice dynamics and characteristics of rivers and lakes to support disaster management, and the understanding of climate change impacts, and ecosystem sensitivity. Through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Rapid Information Products and Services (RIPS) initiative, the NWT Centre for Geomatics, CSA, and Hatfield Consultants validated the potential of RADARSAT-2 to deliver useful disaster risk management products to the Government of NWT and other northern stakeholders. Ultra-fine beam RADARSAT-2 data in conjunction with modeled ice thickness and hydrographic data were used to detect ice that had frozen to the bottom substrate (i.e., grounded ice). Multi-date fine beam mode data was also used to monitor river ice break-up and detection of ice jams along Hay River, located on the south-end of Great Slave Lake. Information provided by RADARSAT-2 can support flood forecasting by monitoring upstream ice runs during the river ice break-up period and can also support ice road planning for new projects and exploration areas. RADARSAT-2 provides important temporal information on ice conditions that can be used to support effective climate change adaptation strategies. For more information, please contact,,

7. 3rd Canadian SMAP Workshop

Presentations made during the 3rd Canadian SMAP Workshop (March 20-21, 2013 Ottawa) are now available on the NASA JPL site: Meetings & Workshops. The workshop focused on Canadian science participation in the Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) mission. The event was held at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Canada. The participants discussed soil moisture calibration and validation (i.e. CanEx-SM 2010; SMAPVEX 2012; core validation sites), freeze / thaw and carbon applications and links with other EO missions such as CoRe-H20, GPM, SWOT, GRACE, ABoVE, etc.

8. Lawrence W. "Larry" Morley, 1920-2013

It is with great sadness that we convey to the Earth observation (EO) community that the pioneer Lawrence W. "Larry" Morley passed away on 22 April 2013. In the early 1970s, Dr. Morley was the founder and first President of the Canadian Remote Sensing Society (CRSS) and the first Director General of the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing. He leaves a legacy of integrity, passion, and dedication to the peaceful and productive use of EO for the public good. Larry made important and lasting contributions in several fields, most notably of course EO, but also geology. He was the first geophysicist at the Geological Survey of Canada from 1952, and he played a lead role in developing the Morley-Vine-Matthews hypothesis that helped lay the foundation for the Theory of Plate Tectonics. He later led the development of EO techniques that were used in the production of thousands of maps of the natural resources of Canada and elsewhere. He was a pioneer both scientifically and through numerous new initiatives in EO, for which he was recognized as the first recipient of the CRSS Gold Medal in 1986. He was awarded the Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 1995, and in 1999 was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada. A veteran of World War II, he served as a radar officer for the Royal Canadian Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic and other missions. A public Memorial Service in honor of Dr. Morley will be held Saturday May 25, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. at St. George's Anglican Church in Owen Sound, Ontario. Messages of condolence can be posted and sent to Larry's family via the online Guest Book at: Mr. Lawrence Morley O.C. Obituaries.