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Canadian radar satellites to help Ukraine fight off Russian invasion

An artist's illustration of Canada's Radarsat-1.
An artist's illustration of Canada's Radarsat-1. (Image credit: Canadian Space Agency)

A Canadian aerospace company is doing its part to help Ukraine fight off the Russian invasion.

The Canadian government has granted MDA permission to collect satellite imagery of restricted areas of Ukraine using synthetic aperture radar (SAR), the Ontario-based company announced on Tuesday (March 8).

"Images captured by MDA's SAR technology, which is unique for its ability to see through all weather and cloud conditions, will be merged and analyzed with other sources of imagery from commercial Earth observation companies to develop comprehensive near-real-time intelligence reports for Ukrainian government officials," MDA CEO Mike Greenley said in a statement (opens in new tab) on Tuesday.

"We're honored that we are able to use our radar satellite capabilities to contribute to these international efforts, and will continue doing everything in our power to help the government of Ukraine protect its citizens," he added.

Related: Russia's invasion of Ukraine as seen in satellite photos

MDA's radar capabilities are considerable. For example, the company built Radarsat-2, which has been circling our planet since December 2007, as well as the three-spacecraft Radarsat Constellation, which launched to Earth orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in June 2019.  

Greenley's brief statement didn't specify which other companies' imagery MDA will look at. There are a number of possibilities. For example, Colorado-based Capella Space has also been capturing SAR images of Ukraine, which Russia invaded on Feb. 24

And spacecraft operated by Maxar Technologies, Planet and BlackSky have been snapping photos of the invasion and its effects in optical light. For example, Maxar recently released a series of shots that showed heavy damage to grocery stores, houses and other civilian buildings in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol. 

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.