The Group-1 missions embark Synthetic Aperture Radars (SARs) working at various wavelengths.
SAR instruments are active sensors: they transmit radar signals and then measure how strongly those signals are scattered back. This implies that they are not dependent from solar conditions. In addition, at SAR wavelengths, weather conditions normally do not affect measurements.
SAR's ability to pass relatively unaffected through clouds, illuminate the Earth's surface with its own signals, and precisely measure distances makes it especially useful for a number of applications, including:
SAR applications require different operating modes over different areas and for different purposes. The implementation is via specific mission planning functions.
SAR data have been available in a continuous way since the launch of ERS-1, and continuing with Radarasat-1, ERS-2, and now an array of satellites operating in different modes and bands (ENVISAT, RADARSAT-2, ALOS, TERRASAR-X, COSMO) and will be continued in the future with Sentinel 1.