Built for performance and versatility

The RADARSAT-2 spacecraft is composed of the bus, the payload module, and the extendible support structure (ESS).

Description of RADARSAT-2.

Bus: the elements that provide general spacecraft support functions, such as attitude measurement and control, telemetry and command, data storage and retrieval, power generation and storage, and thermal control. It was built by Alenia Aerospazio, a leading supplier of space systems and hardware based in Rome, Italy.

Payload: the SAR antenna and specific support equipment required for timing and control of the payload, signal distribution, signal detection and thermal control. The RADARSAT-2 SAR antenna was built by MDA in Montréal, Quebec.

ESS: the mechanical interface between the bus and antenna structure. Once deployed, it preserves the flatness and attitude of the antenna. Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC) Able of Santa Barbara, California, built the ESS.

Launch: by Starsem on a Soyuz launch vehicle, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. At launch, the spacecraft mass is about 2,300 kg.


Except for an offset in time, RADARSAT-2's orbit is identical to that of RADARSAT-1. The spacecraft orbit control system can maintain ground track repeatability of five km, with a goal of about one km at any point in the orbit.

Innovations and benefits
  RADARSAT-1 RADARSAT-2 innovations Benefits
Spatial resolution 10 to 100 m 3 to 100 m
  • Ultra-Fine beam improves object detection and recognition
Polarization HH HH, HV, VV and VH
  • Better discrimination of various surface types and improved terrain classification capability
Look direction Right-looking (left-looking for Antartic missions) Routine left- and right-looking operation
  • Faster revisit time
  • Routine Antarctic mapping available
On-board recording device Analogue recorders Solid-state recorders
  • Higher reliability
  • Simultaneous reading and writing
  • Permits random access to data
Global positioning system None Global positioning system (GPS) receivers onboard
  • ± 60-m real-time position information
Yaw-steering None Yaw-steering for zero Doppler shift at beam centre
  • Facilitates image processing

Built for performance and versatility (PDF Document - 119 KB)