Canadian satellites

Canadian Communications Satellites

Canadian Communications Satellites (since 1972)
All Canadian communications satellites are commercial. The Canadian-based company Telesat is the main provider for Canadian government and corporate users. Its fleet includes Anik F2 (2004), which provides wireless broadband Internet connections in the most remote regions of Canada.


SCISAT (2003)
This small Canadian satellite monitors ozone in the stratosphere and helps scientists improve their understanding of ozone depletion, with a special emphasis on the changes occurring over Canada and in the Arctic.


RADARSAT-2 (2007)
Canada's next-generation commercial radar satellite enhances marine surveillance, ice monitoring, disaster management, environmental monitoring, resource management and mapping in Canada and around the world.


This hybrid small satellite gathers information to better understand the science of space weather, while demonstrating high-speed communications concepts through the use of space technologies.


NEOSSat (2013)
The world's first space telescope dedicated to detecting and tracking asteroids. It also sweeps the skies in search of satellites and space debris.


Sapphire (2013)
Canada's first operational military satellite monitors thousands of pieces of space debris, detects man-made objects in orbit, and provides data to the U.S.-led Space Surveillance Network dedicated to preventing collisions in space.


M3MSat (2016)
A microsatellite designed to test new technologies in space to advance Canada's ability to detect ships and manage marine traffic and improve the way we monitor the health and safety of satellites in orbit.


RCM (2018)
The RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) will build on the success of previous RADARSAT missions. The three satellites will provide daily revisits of Canada's lands and oceans for maritime surveillance, disaster management and ecosystem monitoring.

International satellites with Canadian participation


Cospas-Sarsat (since 1982)
The Department of National Defence (DND) has long provided payloads to support Cospas-Sarsat in low-Earth orbit (LEO). DND is currently developing new payloads that aim to dramatically decrease search time and save more lives.


Terra (NASA, 1999)
Canada's MOPITT is one of five instruments on Terra. It contributes to the study of environmental pollution by continuously scanning the atmosphere to gather long-term measurements of global carbon monoxide levels.


Odin (Sweden, 2001)
Canada's Optical Spectrograph and InfraRed Imaging System (OSIRIS) aboard Odin measures concentrations of ozone, aerosols and nitrogen dioxide in the upper atmosphere.


CloudSat (NASA, 2006)
This satellite gathers data on the structure, frequency and volume of clouds to help improve our understanding of how they influence weather. Canada has been participating since 1998 and collaborates in related scientific work.


This mission aims to identify the physical mechanism that leads to the explosive release of solar energy in substorms. Canadian scientists are involved in this mission by providing real-time monitoring of the visible consequences of substorms: the aurora borealis.


SMOS (ESA, 2009)
The purpose of this mission is to improve our understanding of the Earth's water cycle by mapping sea surface salinity and monitoring soil moisture on a global scale. SMOS also contributes to the study of the cryosphere. Canada has invested in this mission and supports scientific exploitation of its data.


Swarm (ESA, 2013)
By measuring the Earth's magnetic field from space, Swarm aims to separate the measured field according to its different sources: the Earth's core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere. This information will help scientists better understand how the core-generated magnetic field is evolving. Canada's space sector has contributed technology to the mission, and our scientists have access to its data.


Sentinel (ESA, 2014)
A family of six next-generation missions of the Copernicus program that will focus on different aspects of Earth observation. Canada is participating under the Canada/ESA Cooperation Agreement, and Canadian users benefit from simplified access to Sentinel data through a dedicated Data Hub.


Credit: NASA/JPL-

SMAP (NASA, 2015)
The purpose of this mission is to map soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state globally. SMAP's instruments measure conditions in the top 5 cm of soil. This data can be very useful, particularly for agriculture. Canada is collaborating in the scientific aspect of the mission.


EarthCARE (ESA/JAXA, 2019)
EarthCARE will deliver unprecedented data to scientists studying clouds, aerosols and radiation at accuracy levels that will significantly improve our understanding of these highly variable elements. Canada is contributing technology to the mission and will participate actively in science activities leading up to and during the mission.


SWOT (NASA, 2020)
This mission will survey 90% of the Earth's lakes, rivers and oceans using altimetry technology to provide a comprehensive picture of the world's oceans and freshwater bodies. Canada is contributing technology and will be an equal partner in the mission's science working group.

International satellites – Accessible data and services

Global navigation satellite systems

Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) provide positioning, navigation and timing information. Canadians benefit particularly from the use of the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS). Other systems include the European Union's Galileo, Russia's GLONASS and China's COMPASS (Beidou).

Earth observation satellite systems

Earth observation satellite systems are critical for environmental monitoring, meteorology, disaster response, agriculture and many other applications that can improve life on Earth. A number of programs and technologies exist worldwide. Canada benefits from increasingly open access to data from many of these systems.

Telecommunications satellite systems

Telecommunication satellite systems from around the world enhance access to the advanced services needed to compete in the global knowledge economy.

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Enabling commercial activities

Satellites not only facilitate various business-to-business communications, but they also make our handheld and vehicle GPS receivers work and provide the precise timing information that supports data networks for financial and banking systems. Even automatic teller machines (ATMs) depend on satellites!

Space technologies also support the safe and timely transportation of goods and services. They provide critical positioning information and allow precise monitoring of infrastructure like bridges and roads – helping our vehicles, trains, planes, and ships to stay safe and on course.

Improving efficiency and productivity in various sectors

Credit (map): GEOGLAM Global Agricultural Monitoring

Did you know?

Satellites like RADARSAT-2 provide data to support farmers in assessing soil moisture and irrigation needs, and GPS technology supports innovative precision farming techniques. This helps farmers better manage risks and improve planning to boost the quality and productivity of their crops.

From their unique vantage point in space, satellites help us monitor, protect and improve everyday economic activities on the ground.

Positioning information allows us to explore novel approaches to traditional activities (such as transportation and farming), and we use Earth observation satellites to keep a close eye on valuable natural resources, critical infrastructures and yearly harvests.

The data obtained in space helps us track and enhance production in various sectors, including Canada's fishery, forestry, mining and agricultural enterprises.

  • Information and services to enhance crop productivity
  • Accurate data on the health and sustainability of our ecosystems and natural resources
  • Detection of new sites for mineral exploration