Snow is a critical component of the global water cycle and climate system, and a major source of water supply in many parts of the world. There is a lack of spatially distributed information on the accumulation of snow on land surfaces, glaciers, lake ice, and sea ice. Satellite missions for systematic and global snow observations will be essential to improve the representation of the cryosphere in climate models and to advance the knowledge and prediction of the water cycle variability and changes that depend on snow and ice resources. This paper describes the scientific drivers and technical approach of the proposed Cold Regions Hydrology High-Resolution Observatory (CoReH2O) satellite mission for snow and cold land processes. The sensor is a synthetic aperture radar operating at 17.2 and 9.6 GHz, VV and VH polarizations. The dual-frequency and dual-polarization design enables the decomposition of the scattering signal for retrieving snow mass and other physical properties of snow and ice.