Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

March 30, 2009 10:11 ET

Government of Canada Announces Location of Satellite Reception Ground Stations for Polar Epsilon

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 30, 2009) - The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, announced today the locations of the two satellite reception ground stations for the Polar Epsilon project, marking the start of the second phase of this vital Arctic surveillance project.

The ground stations, to be located on the west coast in Aldergrove, British Columbia and on the east coast in Masstown, Nova Scotia, will be key components of the Canadian Forces' enhanced surveillance and security capabilities in the Arctic and our maritime approaches. The ground stations will also enhance Canada's ground infrastructure for satellite operations, further enabling our nation's capacity to receive and exploit space-based data for defence, maritime security and the monitoring of our environment and natural resources.

"These ground stations will help Canada to exercise our sovereignty in the Arctic," said Minister MacKay. "Without question, Polar Epsilon, combined with the extensive capabilities of the RADARSAT-2 satellite, will make Canada a world leader in using space-based radar surveillance technology."

"Our Government continues to make major investments in Arctic research that will fulfill the goals of our integrated Northern Strategy," said Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians. "The data we receive from Polar Epsilon will help protect the North's environmental heritage."

The ground stations, which will be wholly owned and operated by the Government of Canada, will receive and process primarily satellite imagery from the RADARSAT-2 satellite launched in mid-December 2007 by MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. The design and construction of the ground stations will start immediately, and is expected to be completed by late 2010. In addition to enhancing domestic security, increased defence investments will bring economic benefits to Canadian industry. The Canadian high tech and aerospace industries will profit from the investment of millions of dollars required for this next phase of the Polar Epsilon Project.


For further information about Polar Epsilon, please see the backgrounder, available on the DND website at:



The Polar Epsilon project provides enhanced surveillance capabilities for the Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces (DND/CF), which will improve their ability to act quickly in the event of a crisis at home and overseas.

Polar Epsilon was initially developed to address the need of the CF to improve surveillance capabilities over the Arctic and other large areas of responsibility. Polar Epsilon is a space-based wide area surveillance and support capability that is owned and run by DND. The project, valued at approximately $64.5 million, was approved on May 30, 2005.

The Polar Epsilon project involves using information from RADARSAT-2 to produce imagery for military commanders in their areas of responsibility during the conduct of operations. This includes the surveillance of Canada's Arctic region, including its ocean approaches, the detection and tracking of foreign vessels, and support to CF operations globally. Polar Epsilon's capability to enhance CF situational awareness is due to its ability to provide all-weather day/night surveillance in areas where other sensors are limited or unable to operate.

Polar Epsilon has completed its definition phases and is now in implementation for all capabilities including Arctic Surveillance, Environmental Sensing and Maritime Surveillance. These enhanced capabilities will help Canada exercise our sovereignty in the North and protect our environmental heritage.

The implementation phase of Polar Epsilon will begin immediately, and includes the design and construction of two new RADARSAT-2 ground stations, one on the east coast in Masstown, Nova Scotia, and the other on the west coast in Aldergrove, British Columbia. The definition phase for the ground stations was completed by MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA).

The ground stations will be wholly owned and operated by the Government of Canada and are expected to be operational by late 2010.

The advantage of Polar Epsilon is that its imagery can be used for precise cueing and location of activities, which allows for a more efficient and cost-effective use of other Canadian military assets, such as patrol aircraft and ships. Polar Epsilon can also be used to survey for oil or water pollution, aircraft or satellite crash sites. The project however, does not have the capability to detect ballistic missiles, nor can it track small vessels or individuals. The data provided by Polar Epsilon is used primarily to support military operations, but will provide significant information to several departments and agencies to support their daily operations.

RADARSAT-2, the satellite from which Polar Epsilon draws its information, is a world leading commercially available radar satellite. The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Space Agency, has invested $445 million in the RADARSAT-2 program. RADARSAT-2 is commercially owned and operated by MDA, a Canadian company headquartered in Richmond, British Columbia. RADARSAT-2 was launched in mid-December 2007.

Completion of the Polar Epsilon project is expected by March 2011.

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