Founded in 1969, MDA Space is Canada's largest space technology developer and manufacturer, with a workforce of over 3,000+ in Canada, the US and the UK.


News Releases

NSERC chair to further Canada's leadership role in space-based radar

Vancouver, BC - MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. ("MDA" or the "Company") (TSX: MDA), a global communications and information company, today announced that Simon Fraser University is partnering with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to spur innovation in space-based radar technologies and work-integrated learning.

On behalf of this new partnership, President Andrew Petter today announced the appointment of SFU engineering science professor Bernhard Rabus to a new $2.25-million Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).

The chair’s goal is to advance space-based SAR technology, foster innovation, and improve the Canadian space industry’s global competitiveness to boost economic growth. In addition, the partnership aims to prepare graduate students and post-doctoral fellows for careers in the space sector, where half the workforce comprises highly qualified personnel (HQP) who hold undergraduate and graduate degrees.

SAR technology uses microwave pulses to capture high-definition images of the Earth’s surface from space. Governments, commercial users and scientists can use it to monitor, assess and react to natural and human-induced processes, such as climate and environmental changes.

Unlike traditional optical methods, SAR works independently of the weather and can capture images through rain, clouds and darkness.

Space-based SAR applications include:

  • Monitoring Canada’s North to understand the stability and evolution of permafrost, glaciers and ice sheets;
  • Providing daily monitoring of sea ice to enable safe navigation through ice-infested waters;
  • Monitoring and safeguarding national assets, natural resources and the environment;
  • Predicting and measuring landslides, volcanic and seismic activities to keep critical infrastructure and people safe, and to rapidly recover from such natural disasters;
  • Providing reliable, frequent, broad-area surveillance for defence and national security, such as monitoring ships approaching Canada; and,
  • Monitoring oil on water, and critical infrastructures like pipelines.


  • SAR is a remote-sensing technique that captures high-definition images of Earth from space.
  • Sensors transmit microwave pulses and record reflections from the Earth’s surface, revealing key characteristics of its surface, such as vegetation and infrastructure.
  • Sophisticated algorithms process the raw data to create the final high-definition images that are used to derive business-relevant information.
  • Two or more SAR images acquired over the same area and with the same imaging geometry, but at different times, can be used to derive subtle changes that have occurred in the area and provide essential information of changes or movements. It is therefore a critical tool in environmental and natural resource monitoring and maritime surveillance and security.

Joy Johnson, Vice-President Research and International, Simon Fraser University

“The NSERC Chair in Synthetic Aperture Radar and partnership with MDA is an important step towards SFU’s goal of being a world leader in cutting-edge research and innovation. The Chair will position SFU as a leader in space-based technology and spur innovative development at Canada’s most engaged university.”

Sylvain Laporte, President, Canadian Space Agency

“The CSA is pleased to contribute to this industrial research chair in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a well-known Canadian expertise. We hope to improve SAR technologies to better address our needs here on earth while providing hands-on experience and internship opportunities in the space sector for students enrolled in this initiative.”

B. Mario Pinto, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

“NSERC is proud to collaborate with key players pushing the frontiers in space-based radar technologies. This investment will provide the crucial training, knowledge and technologies for Canada to adapt to climate change and influence emerging fields such as precision agriculture.”

About MDA

MDA is a global communications and information company providing operational solutions to commercial and government organizations worldwide.

MDA's business is focused on markets and customers with strong repeat business potential, primarily in the Communications sector and the Surveillance and Intelligence sector. In addition, the Company conducts a significant amount of advanced technology development.

MDA's established global customer base is served by more than 4,800 employees operating from 15 locations in the United States, Canada, and internationally.

The Company's common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "MDA."

Related Websites



Caitlin Dawson, Faculty of Applied Sciences communications, 778.782.7029,
Ian Bryce, University Communications, 604.773.8134,
Wendy Keyzer, MDA communications, 604-231-2743,