Science and Operational Applications Research (SOAR)

SOAR is a joint partnership program between MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. - Geospatial Services Inc. (MDA GSI) and the Canadian Government through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Natural Resources Canada's Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS). The program provides access to RADARSAT-2 data for research and testing purposes.

The SOAR program provides an opportunity to explore the enhanced capabilities of RADARSAT-2 and their potential contributions to various applications. This opportunity consists of a loan, of circumscribed amounts of RADARSAT-2 data to research projects. The main outcome pursued by SOAR is to ensure that Canadian stakeholders benefit, through research and development activities, from the $450 million investment made for the development of RADARSAT-2. Now that the satellite is fully operational, the Government of Canada would like to develop specific initiatives under the SOAR umbrella.

2016 Projects

Earth Observation satellites have become an indispensable tool to help us monitor our environment and manage our natural resources in the 21st century. In order to take full advantage of the technical advancements they offer, we need to foster the development of a critical mass of Canadian researchers to carry out high-level research and development activities that contribute to Earth Observation science and applications.

In May 2016, the CSA selected nine projects to each receive a grant of $50,000 maximum through its SOAR Program. These projects aim to develop new applications and innovative technologies using radar imagery from Canadian satellite RADARSAT-2 and involving Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR). These grant agreements are with the University of Calgary, the Université de Sherbrooke, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Waterloo, York University, and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique. Among the projects selected, the one entitled "Canadian satellite imagery helps measure glaciers' ice loss" is featured to demonstrate the variety of applications supported through these research activities.

2015 Projects

In March 2015, four Canadian universities were selected to receive a total of $700,000 to conduct scientific research and develop innovative applications using new and improved capabilities offered by Earth Observation satellites like RADARSAT-2. These grant agreements are with the Universities of Western, Guelph, Waterloo and Carleton.

This initiative will allow the academic community to generate new scientific knowledge, further enriched their expertise in the field of radar applications and transfer their research into applications of benefit to Canadians in monitoring our land and waters.

Project Name: Application of RADARSAT-2 polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for geological mapping and resource exploration in the Canadian Arctic

Description: The Canadian Arctic is a region of great interest with respect to environmental monitoring, geological mapping and resource exploration. The goal of this proposal is to develop new tools and techniques using RADARSAT-2 imagery to improve geological mapping, land use management and assist resource exploration in the Canadian Arctic.

University: University of Western Ontario, London (Ontario)

Project Name: Towards automated mapping of lake ice using RADARSAT-2 and simulated RADARSAT Constellaton Mission (RCM) compact polarimetric data

Description: The proportion of ice cover on lakes has an effect on both regional climate and weather events such as "lake-effect snow" which causes clouds formation and generates heavy snow showers. Monitoring of lake ice conditions is therefore critical to our ability at forecasting high-latitude weather and climate. Recent work has demonstrated the importance of the ice cover measurement within weather prediction model for more accurate forecasts. Canada being a vast and lake-rich country, mapping of ice cover on lakes on a regular basis is a major challenge. Earth observation satellites, such as RADARSAT-2, provides the necessary means to increase the spatial coverage and temporal frequency of lake ice observations required for numerical weather forecasting and climate monitoring at northern latitudes. This proposal aims to develop an automated method to map ice cover on lakes using RADARSAT-2 imagery.

University: University of Waterloo, Waterloo (Ontario)

Project Name: Integration of InSAR to support the sustainable risk management of linear infrastructure subject to geohazards

Description: Highways, rail lines and pipelines play an integral and vital role in Canada's economic competitiveness and Canadians' quality of life. The reliability and solidity of these high valued assets may be affected by local ground movement events known as geohazards. The long distances traversed, sometimes in remote locations, may impose constraints on the type and frequency of inspection activities used to monitor the state of these infrastructures. This is where radar imagery from Earth Observation satellite like RADARSAT-2 can help by monitoring these infrastructures regularly and in every location day or night. This proposal aims to integrate radar imagery to other source of information within a tool set to assess the impact of significance of a damaging event resulting from geohazards on transportation infrastructure.

University: Carleton University, Ottawa (Ontario)

Project Name: Inferring surface roughness and vegetation characteristics from RADARSAT-2

Description: This study will use RADARSAT-2 imagery to depict the surface roughness and state of vegetation in an active research farm located in Ariss city, Ontario. Radar images will be acquired to monitor corn, soybean and wheat fields at various growing stages: post-seeding but pre-emergence, early crop development, maximum vegetation and post-harvest. The use of satellite imagery will help to determine the impact of the soil characteristics on the quality and quantity of vegetation growth. The RADARSAT-2 imagery will also contribute to enhance the soil moisture information generated from other sources and use to manage agricultural activities.

University: University of Guelph, Guelph (Ontario)

Consult the funding opportunities at the Canadian Space Agency

Questions about the SOAR Program can be directed to: