Russia launches satellites to watch Arctic local weather By Reuters

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© Reuters. Launch of the Arktika-M satellite to monitor the climate and the environment in the Arctic in the Baikonur Cosmodrome

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia launched its Arktika-M space satellite on Sunday to monitor the climate and the environment in the Arctic. The Kremlin urged the country to expand its activities in the region.

The Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average in the past three decades, and Moscow is trying to develop the energy-rich region by investing in the North Sea Route to allow navigation over the long north flank while the ice melts.

The satellite successfully reached its intended orbit after being launched from a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, said in a post on Twitter.

Russia plans to send out a second satellite in 2023, and together the two will provide 24/7 all-weather surveillance of the Arctic Ocean and the Earth’s surface, Roscosmos said.

The Arktika-M will have a highly elliptical orbit high above northern latitudes, allowing it to monitor northern regions for extended periods of time before returning underground.

In right orbit, the satellite can monitor and capture images of the Arctic every 15 to 30 minutes that cannot be continuously observed by satellites orbiting above Earth’s equator, Roscosmos said.

The satellite will also be able to retransmit distress signals from ships, aircraft or people in remote areas as part of the international satellite-based search and rescue program Cospas-Sarsat, Roscosmos said.

“With more activity and higher latitudes in the Arctic, improving weather and ice forecasting capabilities is critical,” said Mia Bennett, geographer at the University of Hong Kong.

“There is also an element of data nationalism flowing into all of this. Countries, especially those who consider themselves to be space powers, want to be able to rely on their own satellites and data to inform their activities, be it commercial or military, ” She said.

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