Canada’s Department of National Defence has launched a C$59.9 million ($47.5 million) programme to use the planned Radarsat-2 Earth observation satellite for all-weather, day/night surveillance of Canada’s Arctic region and its ocean approaches.

Project Polar Epsilon will in­volve construction of ground receiving stations on Canada’s east and west coasts, and be completed by 2009, with coverage to 1,600km (900nm) out over the ocean.

Radarsat-2, set for launch in 2006, is being developed by the Canadian Space Agency and MacDonald Dettweiler. The satellite will carry a synthetic-aperture radar, providing a resolution of 3m, and optical imaging sensor with 1m resolution. Designed for a seven-year mission, the satellite succeeds the 9m-resolution Radarsat-1.

Radarsat International, which will manage commercial distribution of the data, says the new spacecraft will be able to detect medium-sized aircraft such as Boeing F-15s, vehicles such as surface-to-air missile launchers and locate the superstructure on a medium-sized ship. By comparison, Radarsat-1 is restricted to detecting the presence of aircraft on the tarmac, clearings in densely wooded areas, port facilities and lines of transport, but is unable to distinguish between roads and rail.


Source: Flight International