The RADARSAT Constellation Mission

In the past month, there has been some exciting news for radar remote sensing.

On June 12th a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) payload into orbit on behalf of the Canadian government.

The RCM uses a trio of satellites to take daily scans of Canada’s land and waters, collecting invaluable information. This important data helps captains safely navigate through Arctic waters, farmers maximize their crop yields and first responders save lives amongst many more applications.

The system’s major features include a selection of beam widths that have a variety of resolutions from 100 m down to 3 m.

While it is currently in its conditioning phase, the RCM is expected to commence regular operations in the Autumn of 2019.

Once that conditioning phase is complete, the RCM is expected to operate at 120 degrees from each other in a sun-synchronous orbit at approximately 600 km altitude. With an orbital time of ~96 minutes, the RCM is expected to provide an average of 15 minutes of data per orbit.


Whilst the primary focus of the data collection will be to cover the Canadian landmass, littoral and coastal regions of Canada and provide an image every 1-3 days depending on the urgency, the Arctic, most parts of Alaska and the coastal regions of Greenland will be covered with the same frequency.

It is also important to note that the system is capable of imaging approximately 90% of the global surface and is amenable to imaging other areas other than those mentioned.