The RADARSAT Constellation Mission Data Policy is a Work in Progress

RADARSAT Constellation Mission (3 satellites). Credit: MDA.

The RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) data policy is a work in progress and is not yet set. That’s one of the messages that Jill Smyth of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) discussed at the CASI ASTRO 18 conference.

The CSA, working with other government stakeholders, is still working on finalizing a RCM data policy.

The talk by Smyth focused on the context of the development of the RCM data policy including outlining how data policy was set for RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2. Importantly, Smyth said the the RCM Data Policy “will adhere to the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA)”.

By adhering to the RSSSA, which in parts is outdated as was outlined in the last five year review of the Act, the government is developing a policy that may not necessary reflect what an updated RSSSA would suggest as the best policy. In other words, the CSA and other government stakeholders might want a different policy to reflect changes in the current reality of the space sector but are stuck with regulations developed and enacted over 13 years ago.

SpaceQ asked Smyth if the Data Policy being developed would take into account suggested changes to the RSSSA from the McGill review published in early 2017. The answer was no, by law they must use the current Act.

That review stated that the “Act was appropriate and useful at the time of its enactment in 2005, the players, activities, technology and internationalization of remote sensing activities have since changed significantly and outgrown the confines of the Act.”

Global Affairs Canada, who are responsible for the RSSSA, has said previously that before changes are put forward to the RSSSA, stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide their input, possibly as early as this fall. However, to change the Act requires action by parliament. Legislatively, that could take several years, and next year is an election year.

Smyth also stated that like other satellites systems, RCM needs an operating license from Global Affairs Canada through the RSSSA and that the licensing processing is underway.

She also said that one of the objectives is to stimulate economic growth by allowing Canadian industry to develop innovative products and services.

Another issue the CSA is dealing with is the conflicting government mandate to provide RCM data as part of the Open Data Charter while adhering to the security aspects of the RSSSA. The RCM data itself will be available online through the Earth Observation Data Management System through a login. Getting that login access could be a problem depending on who you are and what you want the data for. It’s an issue the CSA is working on.

Smyth also said a cross-Canada consultation process will happen in the future.

Objectives and intents

Smyth presented several slides which outlined objectives and intents. The points are listed here.

RCM SAR (Synthetic Radar Aperture) Data Policy Objectives

  • Sustaining and enhancing operations and services using RCM SAR Data in support of Government of Canada priorities;
  • Expanding the use of RCM SAR Data by Government of Canada in support of departmental priorities and mandates, and informed evidence-based decision making;
  • Guiding the dissemination of RCM SAR Data in order to make them available, accessible, and affordable to the broadest extent possible, subject to applicable restrictions associated with privacy, confidentiality and security;
  • Contributing to international efforts to manage disasters and assist in other international humanitarian efforts;
  • Stimulating economic growth by promoting the development of innovative products and services, derived from RCM SAR Data, by Canadian industry and universities; and
  • Enhancing Canada’s access to satellite data of other countries through sharing arrangements with allies, partners, and international organizations.

RCM SAR Data Policy Intents

  • RCM will be tasked by the Government if Canada to acquire data in support of its mandates and operations.
  • The Government of Canada data needs are expected to consume all of the available SAR imaging capacity
  • Long-term data archive will be maintained
  • The SAR data acquired by the Government of Canada will be made available in their originally ordered processed formats, at no cost, object to the following considerations;
  • Legislation, regulations and policies
  • Within technical capabilities
  • Exact scope of access controls imposed by the RSSSA.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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