FAQ: RADARSAT-1

Launched in November 1995, RADARSAT-1 provided Canada and the world with an operational radar satellite system capable of timely delivery of large amounts of data. Equipped with a powerful synthetic aperture radar (SAR) instrument, it acquired images of the Earth day or night, in all weather and through cloud cover, smoke and haze.

RADARSAT-1 was a Canadian-led project involving the Canadian federal government, the Canadian provinces, the United States, and the private sector. It provided useful information to both commercial and scientific users in such fields as disaster management, interferometry, agriculture, cartography, hydrology, forestry, oceanography, ice studies and coastal monitoring.

1. How did RADARSAT-1 help in emergencies?

Its data could be useful in many types of emergencies. When, for example, in , the Russian oil tanker Nakhodka ran aground near Japan, causing the worst oil spill in that country's history, RADARSAT-1 images provided to Japanese authorities in the hours following the disaster allowed clear identification of the location and extent of the spill. This helped manage cleanup operations.

In the spring of , Manitoba residents were faced with one of the worst floods in their history. Local and military officials were quickly provided with images showing the progress and extent of the flood. These images assisted authorities in flood management operations.

2. Why did RADARSAT-1 collect data on Canada's North?

The data collected by RADARSAT-1 helped the Canadian Ice Service (CIS) create daily ice charts. These were vital to the Canadian Coast Guard, commercial fishermen, maritime transport industries, and marine petroleum exploration teams. For example, in , the Canadian Coast Guard used RADARSAT images to assist the American cruise ship Hanseatic, which ran ashore on ice in the Arctic Ocean with 200 passengers aboard.

3. What did RADARSAT-1 look for on land?

RADARSAT-1 could obtain data on such factors as soil humidity, forests, flood damage, surface topography, and crop conditions. For example, rice, the staple food for two-thirds of the world's people, is cultivated in wet regions that are often cloudy or rainy, where it might be difficult for optical satellites to gather images. RADARSAT-1 could collect information in all weather conditions and cloud cover, so rice harvests could be managed more efficiently.

4. Did RADARSAT-1 help detect underground features?

RADARSAT-1 sensitivity to topography and relief made it an invaluable tool during geological investigations. Many of our most vital natural resources such as natural gas, minerals, water, and oil are found underground, beneath typical features that the satellite can detect.

5. What did RADARSAT-1 look for on the ocean surface?

It provided information on features such as surface waves so we can better understand the oceans and their impact on our climate. These data were used by meteorological services, the fishing industry, and oceanographers. RADARSAT-1 was used to detect icebergs in Newfoundland and Labrador.

6. How did RADARSAT-1 help us get to know our planet better?

More than 500 years after Christopher Columbus discovered America, there are still certain parts of the planet, such as Antarctica, that are not well understood. RADARSAT-1 allowed us to continue to explore and pursue our commitment to monitoring and protecting this planet through sustainable development.

7. How can I obtain data?

General public

Federal and provincial government users

If you are a Canadian federal or provincial government user, you can contact Government RADARSAT Data Services.

8. How much does the data cost?

Processed data, part of over 36,000 products in the Canadian archive, is available at no cost through the Earth Observation Data Management System (EODMS).

For obtaining new products generated from existing RADARSAT-1 data, please contact MDA Geospatial Services to find out about pricing.

9. Do you have data for a specific location?

RADARSAT-1 has data from all parts of the world. The catalogue is accessible via the Earth Observation Data Management System (EODMS).

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