Radar Mapping the Earth

Fifteen years ago today — November 4, 1995 — Canada’s RADARSAT-1 launched from Vandenberg AFB atop a Delta-II rocket.


(Artist’s conception of RADARSAT in orbit. National Snow and Ice Data Center image.)

RADARSAT employed a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to map the earth, with particular attention to “sea ice and terrestrial ice sheets.” The radar satellite program was directed by the Canadian Space Agency (you can visit their page devoted to RADARSAT-1), and was launched by NASA under a joint agreement which allowed NASA access to the spacecraft’s data.

Take a look at this fantastic radar mosaic of Antarctica, as well as this radar image of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, both from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

And finally, on the same Delta-II NASA also launched SURFSAT, an experiment supporting its Deep Space Network.

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