Spotlight: Environmental Focus Aids RADARSAT-1
Canada’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates [Toronto: MDA] is finding increased interest in environmental and agricultural data supplied by its RADARSAT-1 satellite.
Richmond, B.C.-based MDA’s Geographic Information Products Group recently was awarded a C$2.1 million (US$1.49 million) contract by an existing Asian customer who needed imagery from the satellite in all kinds of adverse weather conditions.
RADARSAT-1 uses “synthetic aperture radar” technology to see through adverse weather conditions, as well as to gather images during the night. This capability of the satellite is important because Asia’s tropical climate includes heavy rainfall and cloud cover that sometimes prevent other satellites from providing images of the desired targets. For more than six years, the unidentified Asian customer has been using information products from RADARSAT-1 for a variety of purposes, such as for input about rice yields in the region to help with forecasting models and the mapping of rice acreage.
“Those capabilities allow it to be used for environmental purposes, such as monitoring oil spills, wild fires, agricultural crop yield, and shipping,” said Ted Schellenberg, MDA’s media relations manager. RADARSAT-1 originally was expected to end its useful life after five years in service, but the spacecraft exceeded those projections and does not require a new satellite to be launched to take its place until 2005, Schellenberg said. –Paul Dykewicz
(Ted Schellenberg, MDA, 604/231-2215)