Press Release

Antarctica Exposed by RADARSAT

By SpaceRef Editor
October 19, 1999
Filed under

Saint-Hubert, October 19 1999 – Canadian scientists are now better equipped
than ever to carry on their Antarctic research thanks to the Canadian Space
Agency’s RADARSAT Earth observation satellite. Antarctica, the world’s
largest fresh water supply, is now fully mapped with unrivalled precision, a result
of images captured by the Canadian satellite.

This unique mosaic provides new data about the Antarctic and will facilitate
further ice research. “This map is providing exciting new insights into the
dynamics of the vast Antarctic ice sheet”, said Warwick F. Vincent, Chair of the
Canadian Committee for Antarctic Research. “Given the major role of Antarctica
in regulating the world’s climate and sea level, this information is extremely
valuable. RADARSAT’s accomplishment is a significant Canadian contribution
towards the large international research effort that is currently focussed on global
climate change”, concluded Mr. Vincent.

In order to capture images of the Antarctic, Canada’s RADARSAT satellite had
to execute a remarkably difficult manoeuvre. In the fall of 1997 it undertook a
very hazardous 180-degree rotation in relation to its normal flight path in order to
take radar images of the Antarctica –a unique and unprecedented operation in the
exploitation of this type of satellite. Afterwards, it completed its imagery work in
18 days. Previously, it had taken five satellites 13 years to take images that were
incomplete and less accurate. Remarkably, unlike other satellites, RADARSAT
can capture data even through darkness, clouds and fog. You will find a full
mosaic of the Antarctic at the following address:

RADARSAT is Canada’s first Earth observation satellite. Placed in a near-polar
orbit approximately 800 km above the Earth, RADARSAT produces high-quality
images of the Earth’s surface for use in monitoring the environment and mapping
the Earth’s natural resources. “The selection of RADARSAT by the scientific
international community brings forth the expertise of Canadian Space Agency’s
operators and showcases Canada’s knowledge in Earth Observation
technologies”, said Rolf Mamen, Director General, Space Operations, at the
Canadian Space Agency. For more information about RADARSAT, visit our

The Canadian Space Agency manages and co-ordinates all of Canada’s activities
in the area of space exploration. The CSA also plays a promotional and
co-ordinating role for the Canadian space industry in its dealings with a number of

For more information:

Stéphane Corbin
Manager, Media Relations
Canadian Space Agency
Telephone: (450) 926-4350

SpaceRef staff editor.