RADARSAT is a Canadian satellite operated by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA)/Canadian Center for Remote Sensing (CCRS) for gathering global data on ice conditions, crops, forests, oceans and geology. The satellite was launched in November 1995, with the launch service provided by NASA, USA.

With its creation in 1989, the Canadian Space Agency took over the implementation and operation of the RADARSAT project as a key component of the Canadian space program. CCRS continues to participate in the RADARSAT project through the Radar Data Development Program (RDDP) and is responsible for data collection and archiving.

RADARSAT, with a planned lifetime of five years, is equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Using a single frequency (C-Band), the RADARSAT SAR has the unique ability to shape and steer its radar beam over a 500 kilometre range. Users can have access to a variety of beam selections that can image swath from 35 kilometres to 500 kilometres with resolutions from 10 metres to 100 metres respectively. Incidence angles range from less than 20 degrees to more than 50 degrees.


Type Sun-Synchronous
Altitude 798 km
Inclination 98.6 deg
Period 100.7 min
Repeat Cycle 24 days


  • SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar): The SAR is able to operate in several beam modes:
    • Standard: Seven beam modes with incidence angle ranging from 20 to 49 deg nominal, 100 km swath width and 25 m resolution.
    • Wide: Three beam modes with varying incidence angles, 150 km swath width.
    • Fine: Five beam modes with 50 km swath width and resolution better than 10 m.
    • Scansar: Wide swath width (300 - 500 km) with a coarser resolution of 50 to 100 m.
    • Extended mode.

RADARSAT Operating Modes

RADARSAT Operating Modes

Range 1 x azimuth (m)
Standard25 x 28410020-49
Wide - 148-30 x 28416520 - 31
Wide - 232-25 x 28415031 - 39
Fine resolution11-9 x 914537 - 48
ScanSAR narrow50 x 502 - 430520 - 40
ScanSAR wide100 x 1004 - 851020 - 49
Extended (H)22-19 x 2847550 - 60
Extended (L)63-28 x 28417010 - 23

1. Nominal; ground range resolution varies with range
2. Nominal; range and processor dependent
3. Incidence angle depends on sub-mode

RADARSAT SAR Instrument Characteristics

Frequency/wavelength 5.3 GHz (C band)/ 5.6 cm
Polarisation Linear HH
Bandwidth 11.6, 17.3 or 30.0 MHz
Peak power 5 kW
Antennae size 15 m x 1.5 m
Incidence angle Mode dependent
Resolution Mode dependent

Link to:
RADARSAT (http://www.ccrs.nrcan.gc.ca/ccrs/tekrd/radarsat/rsate.html) at Canadian Center for Remote Sensing.
RADARSAT 2 (http://radarsat.mda.ca/) at MDA.
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Copyright CRISP, 2001