Astrium on board Radarsat-2

Components built by Astrium’s Portsmouth-based Radar group form the payload of Radarsat-2, Canada‘s latest Earth observation satellite, launched recently from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Astrium built the sensor electronics (SE), which form the central control unit of the C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload on board the satellite.

Every SAR instrument flown by the European Space agency (ESA) has been designed and built by the Radar group. The team won the SE unit contract in 1999 and the final product was shipped to MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates (MDA) in Montreal in March 2005.

The SE subsystem handles the command interface to the platform, controls the radar operational timeline, generates the transmit pulse and control signals to the antenna and, detects the received echo for subsequent compression and formatting. The resulting data stream is then passed to the downlink subsystem for storage and eventual transmission to the ground. All of the SE functionality is concentrated into a total of four units and its interconnecting harness, mounted on a single spacecraft panel.

Radarsat-2 is a more advanced version of its predecessor Radarsat-1, and adds some more advanced capabilities like spatial resolutions down to 3m and multi-polarisation. Radarsat-2 is the first commercial radar satellite to offer full multi-polarisation, a capability that aids in identifying a wide variety of surface features and targets. The satellite is designed to be operational for seven years.