The proposed constellations would improve observations of Arctic weather

With the increase in Arctic aviation and maritime activities, Europe and Canada are leading the way in creating weather satellites to collect global data and improve monitoring of the Earth’s far north. In a €32.5 million ($34.8 million) European Space Agency contract given last year, a partnership led by OHB Sweden AB is creating a model for the European Space Agency’s Arctic Weather Satellite, a projected constellation of about 16 small satellites in the polar orbit to collect weather data.

AAC Omnisys is developing a microwave radiometer for the prototype, which is expected to launch in 2024. The ground portion of the Arctic Weather Satellite was designed and built by Thales Alenia Space.

The Arctic Weather Satellite project “would tremendously assist the Arctic zone and the world with improved weather predictions as the existing methods do not give the latency and coverage (to be executed through a follow-on constellation),” according to Bastiaan Lagaune, the space business engineer at OHB Sweden.

Weather conditions at Earth’s mid-latitudes are constantly monitored by geostationary weather orbiting satellites at the equator. Meteorologists use polar-orbiting satellites to circumnavigate the globe and relay measurements in order to predict weather patterns at higher latitudes.

The Arctic Weather Satellite constellation, on the other hand, “will eventually deliver an almost continual stream of humidity and temperature from every site on Earth,” according to Lagaune.

Frequent Arctic weather measurements, for instance, might benefit “the maritime sector, which is expecting to utilize the Northern Sea routes even more as Arctic Sea conditions change as a result of climate change,” according to Lagaune. “In this severe and remote location, having precise weather predictions is critical for safe and efficient transit.”

Meanwhile, the Canadian Space Agency is collaborating on a two-year campaign with Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada to assess the cost and advantages of a proposed Arctic Observing Mission.

The AOM (Arctic Observing Mission) would launch two satellites into extremely elliptical orbits to enhance their sight of northern regions while collecting data on meteorological parameters, air quality, greenhouse gases, and space weather if it were approved.

The satellites will have spectrometers to detect greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a meteorological imager and a space weather sensor, according to preliminary plans.

Ray Nassar, the AOM principal investigator at Environment and Climate Change Canada, believes international partners might play an essential role in the AOM initiative. Nassar indicated by email that “NASA or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may contribute the space weather equipment suite.” “NOAA may also be able to provide a spare Advanced Baseline Imager flying model.”

On the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R Series, the Advanced Baseline Imager is the main instrument. AOM is expected to play a key part in international weather, air quality, and greenhouse gas constellation, according to Canada.

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