Arctic Technology

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Photographer Christian Houge’s Arctic Technology series offers a look at large-scale scientific installations on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, notes Gizmodo.

According to Gizmodo, “the extraordinary emptiness of this landscape brings to mind a recent book called The Edge of Physics, by Anil Ananthaswamy, in which the author visits sites all of the planet where massive pieces of equipment necessary for cutting-edge physics experiments are being constructed and installed”.

“Antenna Forest” (above), shows an antenna farm in Svalbard that looks very similar to the HAARP installation in Alaska.

It also brings to mind the stunningly beautiful documentary SALT, aired last month on PBS’s POV. The film by Murray Frederick, was shot on Lake Eyre, a remote site in South Australia whose lake bed forms a salt flat.

The Svalbard Satellite station, established in 1997, at 78º13′ N, is the only commercial ground station in the world able to provide all-orbit-support to owners and operators of polar orbiting satellites.

Space-based AIS provides global coverage of maritime activity, re-transmiting GPS coordinates, along with bearing and speed, every few minutes. ExactEarth AIS satellites pass over Norway’s Svalbard Earth Station every 90 to 100 minutes. AIS tracks vessel movements in near real-time.

The Automatic Identification System works by interrogating a VHF transceiver that incorporates LORAN-C or GPS location information, with a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicators. All ocean-going vessels and commercial vessels over 65 feet are required to use AIS equipment by the International Maritime Organization.

Located at 78 degrees north latitude, SvalSat is the world’s only established commercial station capable of downlinking on every satellite orbit. The Svalbard facility offers a high speed backhaul link via redundant fiber optic cables to transmit all data to exactEarth’s data center in Canada. SPIE has a collection of Remote Sensing articles.

Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) is a world leading commercial satellite centre. The company currently operates Svalbard Satellite Station (SvalSat) at 78°15´N 15°80´E., (near the North Pole) and TrollSat 72°S 2°E (near the South Pole). Satellite store/dump facilities are provided in direct mode for satellites passing over the station. Data processing and distribution to any site in the world is provided.

At least three orbits could supply nearly continuous polar coverage:

  • Molniya orbit, often used by the Russians for communication and spy satellites. Constant coverage using this orbit usually requires at least three satellites; PCW will have two.
  • A Tundra orbit, a less common elliptical orbit which will trace a “figure eight” of coverage on the target area. .
  • A “three apogee” highly elliptical orbit, which has three closest approaches to Earth separated by about 120 degrees, or 1/3 of a circle’s circumference.

More than 460 space missions fly with CCSDS-developed communications standards. SPIE has a collection of Remote Sensing articles.

Norway has full and absolute sovereignty over Svalbard. If you’re scouting locations for a James Bond thriller, Svalbard wouldn’t be a bad pick.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 at 8:37 am .

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