New Radar Satellite Can See Through Thick Clouds

NovaSAR Radar Platform in Orbit

Artist’s rendition of the NovaSAR radar platform in orbit. Credit: SSTL

The U.K. government wants some new sophisticated radar satellites around the Earth in order to view the planet’s surface through any type of weather, no matter the time of day. These satellites could eventually allow any area on Earth to be imaged within 24 hours, giving us a better idea of what is going on with our world. It could be used for monitoring a disaster or even to monitor deforestation.

Radar was chosen because it has the unique ability to track objects on the ground even with clouds between it and the objects. The project has been developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, makers of small, low-cost spacecraft, who will now be making small and hopefully low-cost satellites. The new NovaSar-S satellite weighs 881 pounds and is smaller than most radar platforms used today, with a low budget price of $70 million.

For that price, they can build, launch, and insure a NovaSar-S. The satellite will deliver images that can show details of any objects on the ground that are larger than 20 feet. It will be ready within three years. If the first version performs as expected, the goal is to launch more to create a constellation in the sky.

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