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April 2nd, 2019
Open Data: Over 36,000 Historical RADARSAT-1 Satellite Images of the Earth Now Available to the Public

Saint-Hubert, Quebec – The Canadian Space Agency and the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation are making RADARSAT-1 synthetic aperture radar images of Earth available to researchers, industry and the public at no cost. The 36,500 images are available through the Government of Canada’s Earth Observation Data Management System.

The RADARSAT-1 dataset is valuable for testing and developing techniques to reveal patterns, trends and associations that researchers may have missed when RADARSAT-1 was in operation. Access to these images will allow Canadians to make comparisons over time, for example, of sea ice cover, forest growth or deforestation, seasonal changes and the effects of climate change, particularly in Canada’s North.

This image release initiative is part of Canada’s Open Government efforts to encourage novel Big Data Analytic and Data Mining activities by users.

Canada’s new Space Strategy places priority on acquiring and using space-based data to support science excellence, innovation and economic growth.

Quotes

“Our Government continually seeks to better understand the impact that humans are having on our environment. RADARSAT-1 has provided us with a comprehensive and valuable group of images of Canada from space. I am pleased that we are now sharing these images openly with Canadians so that they can chart environmental changes in our country over time.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Science data from space allows us to better see and understand our planet. The Canadian Space Agency is encouraging researchers, industry and all Canadians to develop creative applications using this data; applications that will improve our lives on Earth and advance our knowledge of the issues impacting our planet. We intend to make even more RADARSAT-1 available imagery in the future. Canada is a leader in Earth observation from space, and RADARSAT data has been critical to better understanding our country and our world.”

Éric Laliberté, Director General, Space Utilization, Canadian Space Agency

“We are proud to be involved in such a historical moment in Canada’s Open Data movement. This Natural Resources Canada, CSA, private sector collaboration to release over 36,000 RADARSAT-1 images through our new state-of-the-art Earth Observation Data Management System will provide coast-to-coast-to-coast baseline data to all Canadians. Among other applications, RADARSAT-1 images will support monitoring and measuring cumulative effects of changes to Canada’s lands and waters, strengthen environmental assessments, and improve disaster mitigation.”

– Prashant Shukle, Director General, Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, Natural Resources Canada

MDA is proud to support the Government of Canada in making this valuable data available to the public. The RADARSAT program has and continues to provide a historical record of changes on our planet since the launch of RADARSAT-1 in 1995. MDA is excited to work with government and industry partners on new approaches to extract valuable insights from this rich archive.”

– Mike Greenley, Group President of MDA

Quick facts

  • The RADARSAT Constellation Mission, scheduled for launch in May 2019, builds on the legacy of RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2, and on Canada’s expertise and leadership in Earth observation from space.
  • RADARSAT-1 launched in November 1995. It operated for 17 years, well over its five-year life expectancy, during which it orbited Earth 90,828 times, travelling over 2 billion kilometres. It was Canada’s first Earth observation satellite.
  • RADARSAT-1 images supported relief operations in 244 disaster events.
  • RADARSAT-2 launched in December 2007 and is still operational today. This project represents a unique collaboration between government and industry. MDA, a Maxar company, owns and operates the satellite and ground segment. The Canadian Space Agency helped to fund the construction and launch of the satellite. It recovers this investment through the supply of RADARSAT-2 data to the Government of Canada during the lifetime of the mission.
  • Users can download these images through the Earth Observation Data Management System of the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, a division of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). NRCan is responsible for the long-term archiving and distribution of the images as well as downlinking of satellite data at its ground stations.