Mark Collins – RADARSAT Constellation: New Canadian Satellites and Maritime, Arctic Surveillance, Part 2

Further to this post, a contract is awarded for what should be a very useful system–note capability to support Canadian Forces abroad:

MDA gets $4.5-M contract in space-based maritime surveillance project

The Canadian government has awarded MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Systems Ltd (MDA) a $48.5 million contract for delivery of the Polar Epsilon 2 system [more here].

The contract is part of the government’s commitment to providing the Canadian Armed Forces with the equipment it needs to respond to crises within Canadian borders and abroad.

The Polar Epsilon 2 will use imagery from the three-satellite RADARSAT Constellation Mission, to be launched in 2018 [more here], to deliver advanced surveillance capabilities for domestic and global CAF operations. It will provide access to a domestic source of space-based observation data, greatly enhancing their ability to identify and track vessels from space in near-real-time.

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the Canadian Armed Forces remain a modern, combat-effective, multi-role military able to conduct the missions the Government asks of it,” a statement from defence chief Harjit Sajjan said. “The Polar Epsilon 2 project positions Canada as a world leader in space-based remote sensing for arctic and maritime domain awareness, and provides our women and men in uniform with the data and information needed to respond to domestic and international crises and events [emphasis added].”

The three-satellite configuration will provide daily revisits of Canada’s vast territory and maritime approaches, as well as daily access to 90 per cent of the world’s surface [emphasis added].

The RCM is being designed for three main uses:

– Maritime surveillance (ice, surface wind, oil pollution and ship monitoring);
– Disaster management (mitigation, warning, response and recovery); and
– Ecosystem monitoring (agriculture, wetlands, forestry and coastal change monitoring).

In addition to these core user areas, there are expected to be a wide range of ad hoc uses of RADARSAT Constellation data in many different applications within the public and private sectors, both in Canada and internationally.

For example, while the mission design initially focused on maritime security requirements, land security, particularly in the Arctic, will be dramatically enhanced. The system offers up to four passes per day in Canada’s far north and several passes per day over the Northwest Passage…

The new system will extend and enhance the capacity of Polar Epsilon 1, which works with the RADARSAT 2 satellite [more here], amplify the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to detect, identify, and track vessels of interest in Canada’s maritime areas, the Arctic region, and in support of operations around the world [emphasis added]. Polar Epsilon 2 will allow identification of ships in addition to their radar-detected positions, providing an integrated, near-real-time maritime situational awareness capability. It will also help support land-based missions as required…

The system’s very high resolution will be three metres–scroll down to bottom here.

Very relevant, one wonders how much notice this new defence intelligence capability will get from politicians, think tanks, and the media (plus the new Parliamentary review committee):

Not Much Noticed: Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (plus HUMINT)

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


2 thoughts on “Mark Collins – RADARSAT Constellation: New Canadian Satellites and Maritime, Arctic Surveillance, Part 2”

  1. A response to the post:

    “One should consider the distinction between surveillance and intelligence.

    At the highest resolution, a RADARSAT Constellation satellite would be able to discern something the size of a life raft (or itself, for that matter)…especially something which hasn’t moved from one pass to the next such as a downed airplane.

    Based on resolution, it would be able to assist in ship recognition thereby enhancing maritime surveillance by steering other surveillance capabilities such as CP-140 Auroras.”

    Good points.

    Mark Collins

  2. And now:

    “Department of National Defence microsatellite launched from India

    Canada’s Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSat) was launched successfully Tuesday night on board an Indian rocket.

    The launch was conducted by the Indian Space Research Organisation, from Sriharikota, India, along with another Canadian satellite owned by GHGSat Inc.

    The M3MSat mission, which was developed for the Department of National Defence, will improve ship detection and marine traffic management in Canadian waters by testing new technologies.

    The launch also included ‘Claire’, the first demonstration satellite by Montreal-based GHGSat Inc. That microsatellite will test a new way to measure greenhouse gas emissions from industrial facilities…”

    Mark Colliins

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