Antarctica Exposed by RADARSAT

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 1999

Saint-Hubert, October 19 1999 - Canadian scientists are now better equipped than ever to carry on their Antarctic research thanks to the Canadian Space Agency’s RADARSAT Earth observation satellite. Antarctica, the world's largest fresh water supply, is now fully mapped with unrivalled precision, a result of images captured by the Canadian satellite.

This unique mosaic provides new data about the Antarctic and will facilitate further ice research. "This map is providing exciting new insights into the dynamics of the vast Antarctic ice sheet", said Warwick F. Vincent, Chair of the Canadian Committee for Antarctic Research. "Given the major role of Antarctica in regulating the world's climate and sea level, this information is extremely valuable. RADARSAT's accomplishment is a significant Canadian contribution towards the large international research effort that is currently focussed on global climate change", concluded Mr. Vincent.

In order to capture images of the Antarctic, Canada’s RADARSAT satellite had to execute a remarkably difficult manoeuvre. In the fall of 1997 it undertook a very hazardous 180-degree rotation in relation to its normal flight path in order to take radar images of the Antarctica –a unique and unprecedented operation in the exploitation of this type of satellite. Afterwards, it completed its imagery work in 18 days. Previously, it had taken five satellites 13 years to take images that were incomplete and less accurate. Remarkably, unlike other satellites, RADARSAT can capture data even through darkness, clouds and fog. You will find a full mosaic of the Antarctic at the following address:

RADARSAT is Canada's first Earth observation satellite. Placed in a near-polar orbit approximately 800 km above the Earth, RADARSAT produces high-quality images of the Earth's surface for use in monitoring the environment and mapping the Earth's natural resources. "The selection of RADARSAT by the scientific international community brings forth the expertise of Canadian Space Agency's operators and showcases Canada's knowledge in Earth Observation technologies", said Rolf Mamen, Director General, Space Operations, at the Canadian Space Agency. For more information about RADARSAT, visit our website:

The Canadian Space Agency manages and co-ordinates all of Canada’s activities in the area of space exploration. The CSA also plays a promotional and co-ordinating role for the Canadian space industry in its dealings with a number of partners. For more information:

Stéphane Corbin
Manager, Media Relations
Canadian Space Agency
Telephone: (450) 926-4350

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