A Russian rocket blasted off in Kazahkstan Friday morning, carrying with it a Canadian satellite built to keep a watchful eye over the Arctic.

The Soyuz rocket carrying Radarsat-2, the second in a series of Canadian radar satellites, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 8:17 a.m. ET.

Oncein final orbit,Radarsat-2 willbe 800 kilometres above the Earth's surface and pass over the Canadian Arctic three times a day.

The satellite uses radar instead of optical instruments, sending radio waves to Earth and then capturing the signals that reflect back to create its images. The method allows it to see through clouds and poor weather, day or night.

The satellite will primarily monitor the environmentto helpmanage natural resources.

Applications for the satellite include monitoring sea ice movement to allow ships to safely navigate waters, tracking water distribution, including wetland mapping, and mapping resources such as oil, minerals, forests, fisheries and agriculture.

Marko Adamovic, a systems engineer with the Canadian Space Agency's Radarsat-2 team, said the satellite's sensors are equipped with an "ultra-fine beam mode," capable of resolution of up to three metres, or about the size of an automobile.

The first Radarsat satellite, launched in 1995, provided image resolution of up to 10 metres, said Adamovic.

The difference in resolution will give the satellite a greater chance of spotting smaller objects like fishing boats, a feature Adamovic said could prove useful for search-and-rescue operations, oil-spill monitoring or monitoring maritime traffic.

"Now we will be able to perform routine surveillance of Canadian coasts and better protect our sovereignty, particularly Arctic sovereignty," said Adamovic.