RADARSAT-1 Satellite

Radarsat-1 satellite

RADARSAT - 1 Satellite
© Geoscience Australia

Introduction

The following is a brief description of the RADARSAT-1 satellite, managed by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), with data processing and distribution performed by MDA's Geospatial Services (formerly RADARSAT International), also of Canada, or by Geoscience Australia.

Historical information

The RADARSAT-1 satellite was launched on 4 November 1995 and has a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensor on board. This sensor can operate in a variety of imaging modes to suit a range of applications. Additional information on the RADARSAT-1 satellite and data applications can be obtained from the MDA's Geospatial Services (formerly RADARSAT International).

Sensor characteristics

The SAR sensor is an active microwave sensor capable of imaging the Earth regardless of time of day, cloud, haze or smoke over an area. The instrument is classified as 'active', as it emits the microwave energy necessary to image the Earth's surface. In contrast, 'passive' or 'optical' sensors rely on the Sun's reflected energy to image the Earth.

More general information on SAR is available through NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory: What is Imaging Radar?

The SAR sensor on RADARSAT-1 has the unique capability to acquire data in any one of a possible 25 imaging modes. Each mode varies with respect to swath width, resolution, incidence angle and number of looks. Because different applications require different imaging modes, RADARSAT-1 gives users tremendous flexibility in choosing the type of SAR data most suitable for their application.

A summary of the imaging modes and their parameters is shown below. The following diagram shows most of the image modes available.

Radarsat-1 beam modes

RADARSAT Beam modes
© Geoscience Australia

RADARSAT-1 Imaging Mode

Beam Mode

Beam Position

Incidence Angle (°)

Nominal Resolution (metres)

Nominal no. of Looks

Nominal Area (km)

Fine

F1 #
F2 #
F3 #
F4 #
F5 #

37 - 40
39 - 42
41 - 44
43 - 46
45 - 48

10

1 x 1

50 x 50

Standard

S1
S2
S3
S4
S5
S6
S7

20 - 27
24 - 31
30 - 37
34 - 40
36 - 42
41 - 46
45 - 49

30

1 x 4

100 x 100

Wide

W1
W2
W3

20 - 31
31 - 39
39 - 45

30

1 x 4

165 x 165 150 x 150
130 x130

ScanSAR Narrow

SN1
SN2

20 - 40
31 - 46

50

2 x 2

300 x 300

ScanSAR Wide

SW1

20 - 50

100

2 x 4

500 x 500

Extended High

H1*
H2*
H3
H4
H5*
H6

49 - 52
50 - 53
52 - 55
54 - 57
56 - 58
57 - 59

25

1 x 4

75 x 75

Extended Low

L1

10 - 23

35

1 x 4

170 x 170

* This option is currently unavailable from the RADARSAT-1 satellite.

# Ten additional Fine Beam Mode positions are now available by moving each position closer or further from nadir.

RADARSAT-1 SAR Characteristics

Frequency

5.3 GHz

RF Band Width

11.6, 17.3 or 30.0 MHz

Band Name

C Band

Wavelength

56 mm

Incidence Angle

10 - 59 degrees

Ground Resolution

10 - 100 metres

Swath Width

50 - 500 km

Polarisation

HH*

* H=horizontal.

Gereralised Applications

General Application

Advantage

Tropical / coastal studies

Radar penetrates cloud, fog and rain

Coastal / lakes studies

HH polarisation best for land/water discrimination

Discerning man-made features

These features strongly reflect radar energy

Assessment of soil and vegetation moisture content

Amount of SAR backscatter is related to this

Disaster studies (Volcanic eruptions, dust storms or flooding)

Radar penetrates dust and cloud

Remote area studies

Global coverage

Geology

Structural studies; exploration

Land use (including agriculture and forestry)

Mapping and change assessment

How to get RADARSAT imagery and data

Enquiries

For enquiries about satellite programming and help choosing the best product for specific applications, contact: Earth Observation Client Services. Clients can also contact other Australian organisations who provide RADARSAT consultancy services, and are distributors of other Geoscience Australia Remote Sensing products.

Topic contact: earth.observation@ga.gov.au Last updated: January 28, 2014