St. John’s-based research and development corporation C‑CORE has been contracted by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to adapt its proprietary radar technology for space. The CSA is availing of C‑CORE’s expertise to help develop a critical part of the next generation of RADARSAT satellites, greatly improving their imaging capability.

Current radar satellites operate using a single channel data acquisition system that provides “big-picture” surveillance. Surveilling very large areas, such as Canada’s vast ocean estate, entails collecting images that cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometres in a single snapshot. However, covering these extremely large areas comes at the cost of detail in the image. C-CORE will build a prototype multi-channel radar that improves image detail by up to eight times. This capability could, for example, detect every car on the Avalon Peninsula or every bergy bit on the Grand Banks from a single picture.

It is expected that the new technology will be deployed to space within the next decade.

C-CORE maintains one of the largest concentrations of remote sensing expertise (both in personnel and in data) in Canada, providing operational detection services, product development and applied R&D to advance new technologies for harsh environments (space, cold/deep ocean, the Arctic, etc.) for applications in offshore oil & gas, pipeline operations, transportation, and security and environmental monitoring.

C-CORE has been working on space technologies since 1992, when the company undertook the Research Associations for the Development of Industrial Use of Space (RADIUS) project for the European Space Agency (ESA). From 1997 to 2004, C-CORE led the international Harsh Environment Initiative (HEI) to identify, adapt and transfer space technologies to harsh environments on Earth, funded by ESA and CSA, assessing 141 technologies for potential terrestrial application.

Most recently, in 2009 C‑CORE was contracted to design and build three active calibration transponders for ESA’s Sentinel-1 radar satellites, launched in 2014 and 2016; these transponders will ensure that the images collected are reliable day and night, in all weathers and over the entire 15-year lifetime of the Sentinel mission.

C-CORE has also designed components for Space Shuttle, Foton and Soyuz Missions.