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News from the Canadian space industry

Open data for climate action and more: Over 674 000 RADARSAT-1 images of Earth now available

RADARSAT-1 tracking path over Canada

Artist's concept of the path RADARSAT-1 follows while over Canada. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

As climate change continues to be an increasingly pressing issue, the Canadian Space Agency, in collaboration with the Alaska Satellite Facility, MDA, NASA, and Natural Resources Canada, is making an unprecedented number of RADARSAT-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images of Earth freely available to researchers, industry and the public. The 674,000 historical images are a significant increase to the 36,000 images already publicly available through the Government of Canada's Earth Observation Data Management System.

Generating the world's longest timespan of SAR data as Canada's first Earth observation satellite, RADARSAT-1 has already provided essential information to government, scientists and commercial users. But there is still more to uncover.

Comparisons of these unique images from RADARSAT-1's 17 years of operation are invaluable for climate change research through features such as sea ice cover, seasonal changes and climate change effects, particularly in Canada's North. Beyond climate change, the data is also applicable to geology, coastal monitoring, agriculture, disaster management, monitoring land use changes over time and more. Historical images of volcanos and earthquakes can show land deformation over time. Ocean water imagery can reveal historical events such as glacier calving and storms. In agriculture, images have helped with identifying crops, assessing moisture content, and predicting crop yields. They have also played a key role in responding to floods, oil spills, earthquakes, landslides and volcanic activity.

This image release initiative is part of Canada's Open Government efforts to encourage novel Big Data Analytic and machine learning activities by users. It also aligns with Canada's Space Strategy, which prioritizes acquiring and using space-based data to support science excellence, innovation and economic growth.

Satellite Earth observation: taking full advantage of space to help tackle and adapt to climate change

Satellites help monitor, understand and protect our planet. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Satellites provide a unique perspective of our planet. They support cutting-edge science, and enable applications and services in many areas critical to the health and well-being of Canadians. For more than 50 years, Canadian experts have been using satellites to monitor our environment from space. As the effects of climate change in Canada are increasingly clear, satellites can gather essential information more effectively than ever before to help us better understand and protect our planet.

Accordingly, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is investing $8 million in 21 organizations across Canada to advance innovative applications through the use of satellite data. An event was held to announce this funding, delivered through the smartEarth initiative, and to highlight the newly released Resourceful, Resilient, Ready: Canada's Strategy for Satellite Earth Observation.

With the smartEarth initiative, the CSA promotes the development of innovative applications to help meet various needs on Earth, while enhancing the expertise and growth of Canada's space sector. The global satellite Earth observation market is estimated at US$3.3 billion and is expected to grow to US$7.2 billion over the next decade.

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