Surpassing its expected lifetime by 12 years, RADARSAT-1, successfully monitored environmental changes and the planet’s natural resources, after it was declared non-operational last month. The image above is the first image transmitted by Canada’s first earth observation satellite. The image is of a portion of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, and is centred at latitude N46:27:05 and longitude W 060:18:50.
Was launched at 14:22 UTC on November 4, 1995 from Vandenberg AFB in California, into a sun-synchronous orbit above the Earth with an altitude of 798 kilometres (496 mi) and inclination of 98.6 degrees. Tt provided images of the Earth for both scientific and commercial applications. Radarsat-1’s images are useful in many fields, including agriculture, cartography, hydrology, forestry, oceanography, geology, ice and ocean monitoring, arctic surveillance, and detecting ocean oil slicks.
History and NASA Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provided the Delta II rocket to launch Radarsat-1 in exchange for access to data.The project, excluding launch, cost around 600 million Canadian Dollars .
Radarsat-1 used a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensor to image the Earth at a single microwave frequency of 5.3 GHz, in the C band (wavelength of 5.6 cm). Unlike optical satellites that sense reflected sunlight, SAR systems transmit microwave wave energy towards the surface and receives and record the reflections. That is why, these type of sensors can image the Earth, day or night, in any atmospheric condition, such as cloud cover, rain, snow, dust or haze.
With an orbital period of 100.7 minutes, Radarsat-1 circled the Earth 14 times a day. The orbit path repeats every 24 days, this means that the satellite is in exactly the same location and can take the same image (same beam mode and beam position) every 24 days. This is useful for interferometry and change detection at that location that took place during the 24 days. Using different beam positions, a particular location can also be scanned every few days.
The image shown here is the first image transmitted by Canada’s first earth observation satellite. The image is of a portion of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
Geological, land use patterns, wind and current patterns in lakes and the surrounding oceans are visible in the image. This image provides an enhanced coloured view of the Cape Breton where the oceans and lakes are in blue tones and the land in green tones.
The image is a testimonial to great and accurate work done by RADARSAT-1 . Thank you and Adieu, Friend.
Sources: Geospatial , Wikipedia , IEEE
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The amazing success of so many Earth observation satellites is a testament to their design. They have largely outlived their expected shelf lives. In the future, because of funding cuts to NASA and economic constraints affecting so many space programs, we may find ourselves less able to view our planet from space. In a period of “whacky weather” and environmental change linked to rising CO2 levels this deficit in Earth observation will have negative implications.