RADARSAT-1 to be Maintained in +/- 2 km Orbit Constraint for Interferometry Data Collection

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Tuesday, April 3, 2001

RADARSAT International (RSI) of Richmond, British Colombia, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) of Saint-Hubert, Quebec, announced today that the RADARSAT-1 satellite is now being maintained in a +/- 2 km orbit constraint. This new orbit maintenance reduces the nominal +/-5 km orbit constraint and allows clients to use RADARSAT-1 data for interferometric applications. RADARSAT-1 is currently the only sensor available that can collect accurate interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (INSAR) data.

INSAR applications include mapping and monitoring changes in elevation or movement on the Earth's land or ice surface (as subtle as centimetres or less), as well as the creation of highly-detailed and accurate Digital Elevation Models. INSAR can be used to monitor changes in man-made structures, land subsidence and tectonic movement.

A large sample INSAR data set was collected in late fall 2000 during the CSA's Canadian Interferometry Mission (CIM). High-resolution RADARSAT-1 data pairs were collected over Canada's entire landmass, as well as several other regions, including Greenland and Iceland. Successful results from this mission reinforced the potential for using RADARSAT-1 for INSAR.

"The CSA's flexibility in agreeing to maintain the orbit to these tighter tolerances allows RSI to meet the needs of previously unattainable markets. Supplying the INSAR market is part of our long-term strategic plan involving RADARSAT-2. We are excited to be able to offer our clients this new level of detailed information," says Bill Jefferies, RSI's Director of Operations. Originally designed to be operational for 5 years, this powerful Earth observation satellite continues to showcase its robustness. "In a tightly-controlled orbit, RADARSAT-1 further demonstrates its capability to support an expanded and diversified global customer base," says Dan Showalter, CSA's System Operation Manager.


Developed and operated by the Canadian Space Agency, RADARSAT-1 is Canada's first Earth observation satellite. RADARSAT-1 is providing clients worldwide with timely and critical data to assist in disaster relief and emergency rescue efforts. RADARSAT-1 also provides information required by commercial and scientific users in the fields of agriculture, cartography, hydrology, forestry, oceanography, ice studies and coastal monitoring. RADARSAT-2, currentlyunder construction by MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, is scheduled for launch in 2003. RSI has obtained the RADARSAT-2 exclusive distribution rights for non-US markets, and ORBIMAGE continues as US distributor.

About the Canadian Space Agency (CSA):

Established in 1989 with its headquarters situated in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, the Canadian Space Agency coordinates all aspects of the Canadian Space Program. Through its Space Knowledge, Applications and Industry Development business line, the CSA delivers services involving: Earth and the Environment; Space Science; Human Presence in Space; Satellite Communications; Generic Space Technologies; Space Qualification Services and Awareness. The Canadian Space Agency is at the forefront of the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.

About RADARSAT International (RSI):

RSI, a wholly owned subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (TSE-MDA,, is a worldwide provider of products and information solutions derived from Earth-observation (EO) satellite data.

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Cory Rossignol or Kate Stephens
Communications Department
RADARSAT International
1-(604) 231-5000

André Leclair
Senior Communication Officer
Canadian Space Agency

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