Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

Four all-seeing eyes

A constellation of Arktika-M satellites will enable high-latitude monitoring every 15 minutes

29 august 2022

29.08.2022 // A constellation of four Arktika-M hydrometeorological satellites will be formed over the Polar region. With its introduction, Russia will be able to monitor the Arctic macro-region virtually continuously, every 15 minutes, obtaining up to 2 million precise images per year.

Nikolay Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a senior official at the Arctic Council, spoke about plans to deploy the Arktika-M satellite constellation on 19 August at the Arctic Salon in St. Petersburg.

"Among the flagship projects, I would like to highlight the first hydrometeorological satellite, Arktika-M. This project has allowed Russia, according to experts, to be ahead of a number of Western countries in similar developments. The second satellite of this category is planned for launch in 2023,' said Nikolay Korchunov.

The first Arktika-M hydrometeorological satellite was launched into a highly elliptical Lightning-type orbit in February 2021. Three spacecraft in the series are scheduled to be launched before 2025. They will alternate in the working portion of the orbit, located near its apogee.

'It will be the first system in the world that will be able to operate in such an orbit and deliver such an array of information about the North Pole,' said Yury Gektin, chief designer of the Russian Space Systems division.

The creation of satellite systems on highly elliptical orbits will make it possible to continuously obtain the information required for operational meteorology, hydrology, agrometeorology, climate change and environmental monitoring in the Polar region. At present, such information is obtained mainly from polar stations, but data from space would be much more accurate. Thus, to make a reliable weather forecast, temperature, pressure and other parameters need to be measured every 10–20 square kilometres in the polar area north of latitude 60. This is partly done by low-orbiting satellites, but they transmit images at 90-minute intervals, insufficient for an accurate forecast. The problem will be solved by the Arktika-M satellites, which will provide continuous multiscale imagery at six times less frequency. The equipment installed on them will make it possible to measure the temperature anywhere in the Arctic zone to within a tenth of a degree. In addition, wind speed will be measured, which will enable wind charts to be made for the entire circumpolar region.

'A unique project like no other in the world. The project is extremely important. All scientists, especially climate scientists, said they needed this information. It is very, very important for forecasting, weather modelling. Because from all the geostationary satellites, we can only see the equatorial region, and the caps are only glimpsed with miserable resolution. No eddies, no cyclones, we don't see anything there,' explained Yury Gektin.

Another important task of the constellation of satellites will be to monitor ice movements. 'At this frequency of shooting, you will be able to see the ice fields moving, where large wide cracks are forming,' explained Yury Gektin.

The polar night will not be an obstacle to observation. 'The equipment on the satellite simultaneously observes ten spectral bands, seven of which are thermal, and this will allow day and night observation," specified Yury Gektin. The Arktika-M system will not only monitor the Far North territory around the clock but it will also help provide the Arctic regions with high-quality communications and other telecommunications services.

Accurate hydrometeorological data and reliable communication are important factors for safe navigation in northern waters. Therefore, the deployment of next-generation satellite constellations will further increase navigation along the North Sea Route and give further impetus to the development of the Arctic regions.

Photo: SPA named after S. A. Lavochkin/


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