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Radarsat-1, which experienced a technical anomaly on March 29, 2013, is owned and operated by the Canadian Space Agency. Radarsat-2, Canada’s second synthetic aperture radar Earth observation satellite, is owned and operated by MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

The Canadian Space Agency announced two weeks ago that Radarsat-1, Canada’s first and oldest Earth observation satellite, experienced a technical anomaly. It’s unlikely the satellite will recover.

An expert team is trying to determine what’s wrong with the aging satellite, which helped “set world standards” for Earth observation, says Michel Doyon, manager of flight operations for the Canadian Space Agency.

Doyon says it’s unlikely the satellite was hit by space trash, which is a growing concern as orbits become more congested.

“We’re pretty sure it was not debris,” Doyon told Postmedia News. “The initial indications point to a power problem—we were not able to talk to it.”

According to Doyon, Radarsat-2, which was launched in 2007, and other Earth observation satellites should be able to fill the void left by Radarsat-1.

Radarsat-1, which cost about $620 million, has been “a great technological success story,” the agency says. Launched in 1995, it was designed to operate five years, but was in its 18th year of operation when it blinked out.

“It has done a marvelous job,” says Doyon.

Image courtesy of Canadian Space Agency.

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