Building on Success
The RADARSAT-2 program assures data continuity for RADARSAT-1 users. Along with additional beam modes, RADARSAT-2 is designed with RADARSAT-1 compatible beam modes and will follow the same orbit, repeat cycle, and ground track as RADARSAT-1.
Other key features of RADARSAT-2 include the ability to select all beam modes in both left- and right-looking modes allowing more frequent revisits of targets, high downlink power resulting in a lower cost of entry for new ground stations, secure data and telemetry transfers, solid-state recorders, on-board GPS receiver for real-time position knowledge, and the use of a high-precision attitude control system.
The RADARSAT-2 advantage
RADARSAT-2 contains numerous technical enhancements that will assist the ability to generate products of higher quality than RADARSAT-1. These enhancements are not all in the actual images but they will indirectly benefit the resulting applications. The innovations regarding the imaging capabilities are discussed in more details in the section Resolution, Polarization and Imaging.
This is of interest especially to users of RADARSAT-1 data.
GPS receivers onboard
Having GPS receivers onboard the satellite will greatly improve RADARSAT-2's known position which will, in turn, permit more accurate analysis of the orbit and subsequently benefiting the applications.
RADARSAT-2 satellite stability should be easy to maintain through the addition of Star Trackers, which provide reliable positioning information. RADARSAT-1 relied on several techniques such as sun sensors, magnetometers, and horizon scanners that are deemed less accurate and subject to seasonal eclipse outages.
Higher power data downlink
The higher power of the RADARSAT-2 downlink will permit the size of the ground station antenna to be substantially smaller and subsequently more affordable. The standard RADARSAT-1 antenna is approximately 10 metres in diameter; this can be reduced to 3 metres for RADARSAT-2. This will allow the use of portable ground stations.
Solid-state recorders for onboard image storage
RADARSAT-2 will have high-capacity electronic data recorders onboard, therefore, potential exists to record and downlink the same data set. Solid-state data recorders offer improved reliability over tape recorders, and allow addressable data retrieval.