BackForwardInstrument:  SAR RCM 

Instrument details
Acronym SAR RCM
Full name Synthetic Aperture Radar (C-band) for RadarSat constellation
Purpose High-resolution all-weather multi-purpose imager for ocean, land and ice
Short description C-band SAR, frequency 5.4 GHz, multi-polarisation and variable pointing/resolution [see detailed characteristics below]
Background Evolution of SAR on RadarSat-1 and RadarSat-2
Scanning Technique Side-looking, variable pointing within a 500-km-wide field of regard (20-49° off-nadir), to either left- or right- hands alternatively; swath 20 to 500 km, depending on operation mode - See table
Resolution 3 to 100 m, depending on operation mode - See table
Coverage / Cycle Near-global coverage in 12 days for the ‘low resolution’ mode (duty cycle 12 %); 4 days for the 3-satellite constellation; longer periods for other operation modes; shorter on selected areas by strate
Mass 600 kg Power 1270 W Data Rate

 

Providing Agency CSA
Instrument Maturity Backed by strong heritage
Utilization Period: ≥2018 to ≥2025
Last update: 2012-09-12
Detailed characteristics
Operation mode Resolution Swath Field of regard Polarisation

Low resolution

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

Medium resolution (marittime)

50 m 350 km 500 km,  either right or left HH/HV or VV/VH

Medium resolution (land ScanSAR )

30 m 125 km 350 km,  either right or left VV/HH, HH/HV, VV/VH

Medium resolution land

16 m 30 km 350 km,  either right or left VV/HH, HH/HV, VV/VH

High resolution

5 m 30 km 500 km,  either right or left HH or VV

Very high resolution

3 m 20 km 500 km,  either right or left HH or VV

Ice/oil low noise

100 m 350 km 500 km,  either right or left HH/HV or VV/VH

Ship detection

16-100 m 350 km 500 km,  either right or left N/A
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
Biomass4 - fairIndex 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 cover2 - very highInfrequent coverage.C-band SAR. High resolution, for fire boundary detection
Fraction of vegetated land2 - very highNo 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 cover3 - highNo specific limitation.C-band SAR
Land surface topography2 - very highLong time for mapping.C-band SAR for interferometry between images taken at time intervals
Oil spill cover2 - very highInfrequent 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 thickness5 - marginalChange detection only.C-band SAR. Sea ice elevation measured by interferometry. Thickness inferred by ice model
Sea-ice type3 - highNo specific limitation.C-band SAR. Type interpreted as age/roughness
Significant wave height5 - marginalHighly indirect.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR. Retrieved by spectral analysis of "imagettes". Boundary condition necessary for the retrieval
Snow cover4 - fairThick snow only.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR
Snow status (wet/dry)4 - fairThick snow only.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR
Snow water equivalent4 - fairChange 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 surface4 - fairAffected by vegetation.. Infrequent coverage.C-band SAR
Soil type4 - fairNo specific limitation.C-band SAR
Vegetation type4 - fairNo specific limitation.C-band SAR
Wave directional energy frequency spectrum3 - highInfrequent coverage.C-band SAR. Variable measured by spectral analysis of "imagettes"