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.

Health banner

Studying factors that affect health and predicting epidemics

Did you know?

Since farming and urban activities can significantly contribute to microbial contamination of recreational waters, the Public Health Agency of Canada uses data from various Earth observation satellites, including RADARSAT-2, to study the environmental characteristics of areas near beaches. This information allows specialists to monitor water quality in a targeted manner in order to protect public health.

Satellite information can help specialists predict a rise in environmentally related medical conditions. Decreasing ozone levels, for example, are linked with increased UV radiation and more cases of skin cancer. The same is true for data on air and water quality.

Tele-epidemiology is an emerging field that aims to use satellites to study the environmental factors that indicate an outbreak or the spread of infectious diseases among populations. From space, experts can monitor climate and ecological conditions that indicate the presence of disease vectors in specific locations. In some cases, this makes it possible to alert local health authorities so that control measures can be put in place.

Improving access to essential health services

Credit: University of Saskatchewan Remote Medicine Robotics Program

Advances in space technology have led to state-of-the-art systems and applications that are revolutionizing public health services, particularly for those living in remote and isolated locations.

  • eHealth refers to information and communications technologies like information and patient monitoring systems that improve the quality, accessibility and efficiency of Canada's health care system.
  • Telehealth includes the use of communications technologies like videoconferencing services to give specialist advice and health education to health care providers, particularly those in remote locations.
  • Telemedicine applications like tele-operated surgical systems now exist thanks to innovations in both satellite communications and robotic technology developed for Canadarm.