Backgrounder Article from  National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

Polar Epsilon 2 Project

The Polar Epsilon 2 project is part of a ‘whole-of-government’ effort to maintain and expand Canada’s access to a domestic source of space-based Earth observation data.This project will provide mission continuity and deliver advanced capabilities beyond those delivered by the previous Polar Epsilon project.

The project combines the wide-area surveillance and support capability currently offered by Polar Epsilon with the Automatic Identification System data tracking system used on ships. This will allow the Canadian Armed Forces to identify and track vessels from space in near-real-time. The project will greatly enhance 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 expeditionary operations around the world. Polar Epsilon 2 will also allow identification of ships by name, in addition to their radar-detected positions, providing an integrated, near-real-time maritime situational awareness capability.

Polar Epsilon 2 will use data from the next generation of Canadian Earth-observation satellites, known as the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, set to be launched in 2018. The data obtained from the RADARSAT Constellation Mission will be used for various surveillance needs ranging from monitoring of ice flows within Canada’s coastal waters, providing surveillance of Canada’s ocean approaches; monitoring environmental conditions, such as floods and forest fires; and managing and mapping natural resources in Canada and around the world.

The Canadian Armed Forces rely on many systems to provide surveillance of Canada’s maritime approaches, but satellite systems such as the RADARSAT Constellation Mission –combined with advanced ground segments that will be delivered by Polar Epsilon 2 project – will provide critical access to this ultimate high ground. Space-based radar data from the RADARSAT Constellation Mission will provide all-weather, day-and-night active-wide-area-surveillance in areas where other sensors are either unable to operate, or of limited capability.

The Government of Canada has awarded MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Systems Ltd (MDA) a $48.5 million contract for delivery of the Polar Epsilon 2 system. The contract also includes an option to implement infrastructure to manage data, which if exercised, could increase the total contract value to approximately $63.1 million.

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