Using RADARSAT to Support C-Band SAR Data Continuity for the European User Community
Branson, Wendy1; Odin, Laurence1; Fleming, Stuart1; Belton, David2
1MDA Geospatial Services Inc, CANADA; 2MDA Geospatial Services Inc, CANADA

RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 have been supporting the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program since May 2009. The overall capacity of the RADARSAT-2 satellite has provided reliable coverage supporting the Land, Marine and Emergency users for the past five years as demand continues to grow. This paper will examine the partnership that Canada has with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European community through the GMES program. It will also look to the future, both in terms of the Sentinel-1 launch, as well as the Canadian RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) to ensure continuity of C-Band SAR coverage for the growing user community.

During the early phases of the GMES program, RADARSAT-2 provided complementary images to support the Envisat mission, fulfilling the maritime requirements of the MyOcean users. Each year during the first contract (2009-2011), RADARSAT-2 usage doubled reaching a total of 3,400 images for MyOcean users. With the support of our European partner reception facilities, we achieved a 98% success rate in meeting the stated three hour acquisition to product delivery objective. The average delivery time was 28 minutes, providing MyOcean users with rapid access to data, which is used to generate timely sea ice information.

With the loss of the Envisat satellite in April 2012, MDA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) provided RADARSAT resources to assist operational users, in particular the MyOcean user group and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) with an uninterrupted data supply. For a three month period, the partnership between ESA and Canada provided RADARSAT data to GMES users through the Contingency Agreement put in place in the event of a failure from either Canadian or ESA satellite. In July 2012 ESA and MDA Geospatial Services, Inc. (MDA) entered into an agreement to carry on the supply of RADARSAT data in replacement of Envisat. This agreement strengthens the long term partnership between Canada and ESA. Since this time, RADARSAT images have been provided in near real-time using four reception facilities to meet the needs of European arctic, Baltic, Greenland and Antarctic coverage. The capacity of the RADARSAT satellites enables the continued monitoring of the dynamic ocean environment to satisfy the growing operational requirements of the European community

In addition to the support for the maritime community, RADARSAT-2 continues to build a large archive of data over Europe and the rest of the world to support many different types of user requirements. Actively supporting such groups as DORIS, SAFER, REDD and SubCoast has complemented MDAs initiatives to cover key areas of global interest. In collaboration with our ground receiving station partners around the world we continue collecting RADARSAT-2 data that satisfy national, regional and international programs such as disaster monitoring and management, environmental impact assessment and climate change monitoring. Providing easy access to a large archive of data stored both at the Canadian Data Processing facilities as well as our partner reception facilities, MDA has successfully implemented the Heterogeneous Missions Accessibility (HMA) Catalogue ordering functionality. As interest continues to build for both scientific and operational monitoring of our environment, a comprehensive archive of data will support continued understanding of our changing environment. This enables such analysis techniques as Interferometry and change detection to use imagery from ERS/Envisat/RADARSAT-1's early collection, in conjunction with continued monitoring from RADARSAT-2, Sentinel and RCM. It also contributes to the Emergency Activation services in which RADARSAT-2 has contributed over the duration of the program.

The future holds great promise for increasing our understanding of the dynamic nature of the maritime environment. With the launch of Sentinel-1 and the on-going, reliable coverage of the RADARSAT satellites, maritime users will have access to considerable quantities of C-Band SAR data. The RADARSAT Constellation Mission will follow with a three satellite constellation, proving long-term access to the data users need. The complementary nature of the RADARSAT and Sentinel-1 missions ensure that their users can develop programs that require long-term access to data and have confidence that there will always be data available.