Satellite Characteristics

To gain more insight into the capabilities and technical aspects of the Canadian Synthetic Aperture Radar Earth Observation satellites RADARSAT-1, RADARSAT-2 and RADARSAT Constellation, below you will find an illustration and a table comparing their features in terms of system characteristics and beam modes.

System Characteristics

General

RADARSAT-1 RADARSAT-2 RADARSAT Constellation
High resolution m X 8 m
(stripmap mode)
m X 3 m
(spotlight mode)
m X 3 m
(spotlight mode)
Total mass at launch 2,750 kg 2,200 kg 1,400 kg
Mission life 5 years 7 years 7 years (each satellite)
SAR antenna dimensions 15 m x 1.5 m 15 m x 1.5 m 6.75 m x 1.38 m
Solar arrays (each) 2.21 m x 1.32 m 3.73 m x 1.8 m 2.2 m x 1.7 m main power
(one panel vs two for RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2)
0.5 m x 1.6 m
(keep-alive power)
Bus 3.55 m x 2.46 m 3.7 m x 1.36 m Canadian SmallSat Bus
Look direction
  • Right-looking
  • Routine left- and right-looking operation
  • Increased re-visit time for improved monitoring efficiencies
  • Right-looking
  • Multiple satellites will eliminate the need for left- and right-looking to increase revisit

Radar

RADARSAT-1 RADARSAT-2 RADARSAT Constellation
Active antenna C-Band C-Band C-Band
Centre frequency 5.3 GHz 5.405 GHz 5.405 GHz
Bandwidth 30 MHz 100 MHz 100 MHz
Polarization HH HH, VV, HV, VH HH, VV, HV, VH, Compact Polarimetry
Polarization isolation > 20 dB > 25 dB > 30 dB
Aperture length 15 m 15 m 6.75 m
Aperture width 1.5 m 1.37 m 1.38 m
Mass 679 kg 750 kg 400 kg approximate
Deployment mechanism Extendable support structure (ESS) ESS Simple strut deployment with a kinematically decoupled internal support structure

Orbit

RADARSAT-1 RADARSAT-2 RADARSAT Constellation
Altitude 793-821 km 798 km 586-615 km
Inclination 98.6 degrees 98.6 degrees 97.74 degrees
Duration of one orbit 100.7 min 100.7 min 96.4 min
Descending node 6 h 6 h 6 h +/- 15 min
Ascending node 18 h 18 h 18 h  +/- 15 min
Sun-synchronous 14.29 orbits per day (14 7/24) 14.29 orbits per day (14 7/24) 14.92 orbits per day (14 11/12)

Beam Modes

RADARSAT-1

RADARSAT-1 beam modes

Text description of image RADARSAT-1 beam modes

(Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Beam modes Nominal swath width
(km)
Nominal resolution (m)
Fine 45 8
Standard 100 30
Wide 150 30
ScanSAR Narrow 300 50
ScanSAR Wide 500 100
Extended High75 18-27
Extended Low170 30

RADARSAT-2

Beam Mode RADARSAT-2

Text description of image RADARSAT-2 beam modes

(Credit: MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd.)

Beam modes Nominal swath width (km) Maximal spatial resolution (m)
Selective Single or Dual Polarization
Transmit H and/or V, receive H and/or V
Fine 50 8
Wide Fine 150 8
Standard 100 25
Wide 150 25
ScanSAR Narrow 300 50
ScanSAR Wide 500 100
Polarimetric
Transmit H and V on alternate pulses /
receive H and V on any pulse
Fine Quad-Pol 25 12
Wide Fine Quad-Pol 50 12
Standard Quad-Pol 25 25
Wide Standard Quad-Pol 50 25
Single Polarization HH
Transmit H, receive H
Extended High 75 25
Extended Low 170 60
Selective Single Polarization
Transmit H or V, receive H or V
Spotlight 18 1
Ultra-Fine 20 3
Wide Ultra-Fine 50 3
Multi-Look Fine 50 8
Wide Multi-Look Fine 90 8

RADARSAT Constellation

Beam modes Nominal swath width (km) Approximate resolution (m)
Low Resolution 100 m 500 100 x 100
Medium Resolution 50 m 350 50 x 50
Medium Resolution 30 m 125 30 x 30
Medium Resolution 16 m 30 16 x 16
High Resolution 5 m 30 5 x 5
Very High Resolution 3 m 20 3 x 3
Low Noise 350 100 x 100
Ship Detection 350 Variable
Spotlight 14 [5 km in azimuth] 1 x 3
Quad-Polarization 20 9 x 9