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Currently, existing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites orbiting in space and accessible to CSTARS are the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) RadarSat-1, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ERS-2 and ENVISAT ASAR. ENVISAT and ERS-2 are in the same orbits and follow each other within 30 minutes. The main difference is that ERS-2 has only one beam mode at a nominal incidence angle of 23 degrees which coincides with ENVISAT’s beam mode I2.

RadarSat-1 is a C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) that penetrates clouds and can image day and night and in all weather conditions. Launched in November 1995, RadarSat-1 is operated by MDA GeospatialServices of Richmond, Canada.

radarsat
Inclination angle (degrees) 98.6
Orbital period (minutes) 100.7 min
Mean local time at ascending node 18:00 ± 5 min
Mean altitude (km) 798 km (793-821)
Orbits per day 14 7/24
Repeat cycle (days) 24 days (343 orbits)
Polarization HH
Beam Modes and Nominal Resolution
Fine Beam
Standard Beam
ScanSAR

8 m
20 m
50 m

 

ENVISAT ASAR is a C-band Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument onboard the European Space Agency’s ENVISAT satellite, and is capable of penetrating clouds and can image day and night and in all weather conditions. Launched in March 2002, ENVISAT-1 is operated by the European Space Agency.envisat

Inclination angle (degrees) 98.55
Orbital period (minutes) 100.6 min
Mean local time at descending node 10:00 ± 5 min
Mean altitude (km) 799.8 km
Orbits per day 14 11/35
Repeat cycle (days) 35 days (501 orbits)
Polarization VV, HH, VH, HV
Beam Modes and Nominal Resolution
Image Mode
WideScan
30 m
50 m

 


ERS-2 is a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument following its predecessor ERS-1 satellite, and is capable of penetrating clouds and can image day and night and in all weather conditions. Launched in April 1995, ERS-2 is one of the longest operational SARs in space and continues to be operated by the European Space Agency.ers-2

Inclination angle (degrees) 98.54
Orbital period (minutes) 100.6 min
Mean local time at descending node 10:30 a.m. ± 5 min
Mean altitude (km) 795 km
Orbits per day 14 11/35
Repeat cycle (days) 35 days (501 orbits)
Polarization VV
Beam Mode and Nominal Resolution
Strip Map Mode
25 m

 

Recently several new SAR satellites were launched into space. The Japanese Space Agency’s (JAXA) L-band PALSAR sensor onboard the ALOS satellite is a follow on sensor to the JERS-1 SAR launched in the mid-1990’s. While L-band is much better suited for detection of ocean surface features such as eddies and internal waves, the high-resolution data of PALSAR is not available in near-real time due to complicated downlink restrictions. Only medium resolution data is available from the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) and soon from CSTARS.

PALSAR is a Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument on ALOS and is capable of penetrating clouds and can image day and night and in all weather conditions. Launched in January 2006, PALSAR is operated by the Japanese Space Agency.

palsar
Inclination angle (degrees) 98.16
Orbital period (minutes) 99 min
Mean local time at descending node 10:30 ± 15 min
Mean altitude (km) 691.65 km
Orbits per day 14 27/46
Repeat cycle (days) 46 days (671 orbits)
Polarization HH, VV, HH&HV, VV&VH
Beam Mode and Nominal Resolution
High Resolution Mode
ScanSAR

10 m
100 m
 

TerraSAR-X is the first commercially available radar satellite to offer one-meter resolution imagery products.  TerraSAR-X was launched in June 2007 and is operated in a German public, private partnership (PPP) program between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) an d Astrium.  Astrium's subsidiary Infoterra GmbH is responsible for the commercial exploitation of the TerraSAR-X data. The technologies of the active phased array X-band SAR utliizes in-depth experience by the PPP partners in spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, e.g. from airborne remote sensing or the shuttle missions SIR-C/X-SAR and SRTM.  TerraSAR-X is an excellent complement to optical systems such as Quickbird, IKONOS, FormoSat-2 and SPOT 5 with its high resolution SAR capability. The precise attitude and orbit determination of TerraSAR-X allows an orthorectification without ground control point achieving an image pixel location accuracy of up to 1m depending on relief, incidence angle and available DEM.

terrasar-x
Inclination angle (degrees) 97.44
Orbital period (minutes) 95 min
Mean local time at descending node 06:00 ± 15 min
Mean altitude (km) 514.8 km
Orbits per day 15 2/11
Repeat cycle (days) 11 days (167 orbits)

Polarization (single, dual and quad*)

*Experimental only.

HH or VV (single)
HH/VV, HH/HV, VV/VH (dual)
HH, VV, HV, VH (quad)
Beam Mode and Nominal Resolution
SpotLight
StripMap
ScanSAR

1 m
3 m
18 m
 

Cosmo-SkyMed (COnstellation of small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation) is an Italian X-band SAR for earth observation and its first satellite was launched June 2007. The COSMO constellation will consist of four Low Earth Orbit (LEO) mid-sized satellites, each equipped with a multi-mode high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operating at X-band and fitted with particularly flexible and innovative data acquisition and transmission equipment. COSMO-SkyMed will be operated by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and will provide an earth observation asset characterized by full global coverage, all weather, day/night acquisition capability, higher resolution, higher accuracy (geo-location, radiometry, etc.), superior image quality, fast revisit/response time, interferometric/polarimetric capabilities and quicker-and-easier ordering and delivery of cosmo-skymeddata, products and services.

Inclination angle (degrees) 97.86
Orbital period (minutes) 95 min
Mean local time at descending node 06:00 ± 15 min
Mean altitude (km) 619.6 km
Orbits per day 14 13/16
Repeat cycle (days) 16 days (237 orbits)
Constellation of Satellites 4 at 90o phasing
Polarization (selectable) HH, VV, HV, VH
Beam Mode and Nominal Resolution
SpotLight
StripMap Mode
   HighImage
   PingPong
ScanSAR Mode
   Wideregion
   Hugeregion

1 m

3 m
5 m

30 m
100 m

 

SPOT
SPOT (Satellite pour l'Obsevation de la Terre) is a high-resolution, optical imaging earth observation satellite system operating from space. It is run by Spot image based in Toulouse, France.

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