BackForwardInstrument:  SAR (RadarSat-1) 

Instrument details
Acronym SAR (RadarSat-1)
Full name Synthetic Aperture Radar (C-band)
Purpose High-resolution all-weather multi-purpose imager for ocean, land and ice
Short description C-band SAR, frequency 5.3 GHz (RadarSat-1) or 5.4 GHz (RadarSat-2), polarisation HH (RadarSat-1) or multi-polarisation (RadarSat-2) [see detailed characteristics below]
Background New development
Scanning Technique Side-looking, variable pointing within a 500-km-wide field of regard (20-49° off-nadir), on the right hand (RadarSat-1) or to either left- or right- hands alternatively (RadarSat-2); swath 20 to 500 km, depending on operation mode - See table (valid for RadarSat-2)
Resolution RadarSat-1: 10 to 100 m; RadarSat-2: 3 to 100 m. Depending on operation mode - See table (valid for RadarSat-2)
Coverage / Cycle Near-global coverage in 1 week for the ‘ScanSAR wide’ mode (duty cycle 28 %); longer periods for other operation modes; shorter on selected areas by strategic pointing
Mass 705 kg Power 1650 W Data Rate 105 Mbps

 

Providing Agency CSA
Instrument Maturity Flown on operational programme
Utilization Period: 1996 to ≥2020
Last update: 2012-09-12
Detailed characteristics
Operation mode Resolution Swath Field of regard Polarisation

Standard

25 m 100 km 500 km,  either right or left HH/HV or VV/VH

Fine

10 m 50 km 225 km, either right or left HH/HV or VV/VH

ScanSAR wide

100 m 500 km 500 km,  either right or left HH/HV or VV/VH

ScanSAR narrow

50 m 300 km 420 km,  either right or left HH/HV or VV/VH

Polarimetric standard

25 m 25 km 350 km,  either right or left VV/HH, HH/HV, VV/VH

Polarimetric fine

10 m 25 km 200 km,  either right or left VV/HH, HH/HV, VV/VH

Multi-look fine

10 m 50 km 350 km,  either right or left HH or VV

Ultra-fine

3 m 20 km 150 km,  either right or left HH or VV
Satellites this instrument is flying on

Note: a red tag indicates satellites no longer operational, a green tag indicates operational satellites, a blue tag indicates future satellites

Instrument classification
  • Earth observation instrument
  • Active and radio-occultation sensor
  • Imaging radar (SAR)
Mission objectives
Primary mission objectives
  • Glacier cover
  • Glacier motion
  • Glacier topography
  • Ice sheet topography
  • Land surface topography
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Tentative Evaluation of Measurements

The following list indicates which measurements can typically be retrieved from this category of instrument. To see a full Gap Analysis by Variable, click on the respective variable.

Note: table can be sorted by clicking on the column headers
VariableRelevance for measuring this variableOperational limitationsExplanation
Biomass3 - highIndex only.. Infrequent coverage.C-band sensitive to total biomass
Dominant wave direction3 - highInfrequent coverage.C-band SAR. Variable measured by spectral analysis of "imagettes"
Dominant wave period3 - highInfrequent coverage.C-band SAR. Variable measured by spectral analysis of "imagettes"
Fire fractional cover3 - highInfrequent coverage.C-band SAR. High resolution, for fire boundary detection
Fraction of vegetated land4 - fairNo specific limitation.C-band SAR
Glacier cover2 - very highLong time for mapping.C-band SAR for accurate boundary detection
Glacier motion3 - highInfrequent coverage.C-band SAR for interferometry between images taken at time intervals
Glacier topography3 - highLong time for mapping.C-band SAR for interferometry between images taken at time intervals
Ice sheet topography3 - highLong time for mapping.C-band SAR for interferometry between images taken at time intervals
Land cover4 - fairNo specific limitation.C-band SAR
Land surface topography3 - highLong time for mapping.C-band SAR for interferometry between images taken at time intervals
Oil spill cover1 - primaryInfrequent coverage.C-band SAR
Sea-ice cover1 - primaryNo specific limitation.C-band SAR
Sea-ice elevation4 - fairNo specific limitation.C-band SAR. Sea ice elevation measured by interferometry
Sea-ice thickness4 - fairChange detection only.C-band SAR. Sea ice elevation measured by interferometry. Thickness inferred by ice model
Sea-ice type2 - very highNo specific limitation.C-band SAR. Type interpreted as age/roughness
Significant wave height4 - fairHighly indirect.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR. Retrieved by spectral analysis of "imagettes". Boundary condition necessary for the retrieval
Snow cover3 - highThick snow only.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR
Snow status (wet/dry)5 - marginalThick snow only.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR
Snow water equivalent3 - highChange detection only.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR. SWE is retrieved by grigging with data from ground networks
Soil moisture (in the roots region)5 - marginalAffected by vegetation.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR. Assimilation process required
Soil moisture at surface3 - highAffected by vegetation.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR
Soil type4 - fairNo specific limitation.C-band SAR
Vegetation type5 - marginalNo specific limitation.C-band SAR
Wave directional energy frequency spectrum3 - highInfrequent coverage.C-band SAR. Variable measured by spectral analysis of "imagettes"