What is the RCM?

Status: Awaiting launch

The RADARSAT Constellation is the evolution of the RADARSAT Program with the objective of ensuring data continuity, improved operational use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and improved system reliability. The three-satellite configuration will provide daily revisits of Canada's vast territory and maritime approaches, as well as daily access to 90% of the world's surface.


The RADARSAT Constellation is the evolution of the RADARSAT Program with the objective of ensuring C-band data continuity, enhanced operational use of SAR data and improved system reliability over the next decade.

- The Making of a Satellite – The RADARSAT Constellation. (Credits: MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., Canadian Space Agency)


The RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) includes three identical Earth observation satellites and is a paradigm shift from previous RADARSAT missions. Instead of launching a single large, multi-year operations satellite, the capabilities of the system will be distributed across several small satellites, increasing revisit, and introducing a more robust, flexible system that can be maintained at lower cost and launched into orbit using less expensive launch vehicles.

To learn more about the RCM's technical characteristics

The greatly enhanced temporal revisit combined with accurate orbital control will enable advanced interferometric applications based on the satellites' four-day cycle, allowing for the generation of very accurate coherent change maps.

Images of RCM

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Main applications

The RADARSAT Constellation will ensure C-band data continuity for RADARSAT users, as well as adding a new series of applications enabled through the constellation approach.

The RCM is being designed for three main uses:

In addition to these core user areas, there are expected to be a wide range of ad hoc uses of RADARSAT Constellation data in many different applications within the public and private sectors, both in Canada and internationally.

For example, while the mission design initially focused on maritime security requirements, land security, particularly in the Arctic, will be dramatically enhanced. The system offers up to four passes per day in Canada's far north, and several passes per day over the Northwest Passage.

The increase in revisit frequency introduces a range of applications that are based on regular collection of data and creation of composite images that highlight changes over time. Such applications are particularly useful for monitoring climate change, land use evolution, coastal change, urban subsidence and even human impacts on local environments.

Check out this cool timelapse of one of RCM's satellites on its way to the Thermal Vacuum Chamber at our David Florida Laboratory. This test is used to check the satellite's resistance to extreme space temperatures and vacuum. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency) More information

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