The Finnish Meteorological Institute's new satellite reception station strengthens the environmental monitoring of Northern and Arctic regions.
Photo: Pauli Heikkinen
Thanks to the satellite reception station inaugurated on 23 November in Tähtelä, Sodankylä, and efficient telecommunications technology, Sodankylä is becoming an international satellite service centre. The new satellite reception station creates a communications link between satellites and Earth and receives observation material recorded by remote-sensing satellites in polar orbits.
Aside from reception, the Meteorological Institute provides material processing, archiving and distribution services for both Finnish and international actors. At present, the research centre cooperates with bodies such as NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
The data received in Sodankylä can be utilised, for instance, for meteorological services, flood projection systems, ice services and navigation. The reception of satellite data and the archiving of observations also open doors for the monitoring of extended time series and, consequently, slow changes. In fact, the greatest benefits of satellite observations pertain, in particular, to the exploration of the current state, changes and characteristics of Northern and Arctic regions and the associated risks and opportunities.
The real-time or near real-time reception of satellite data also brings major advantages for the monitoring of rapid and violent events, such as storms, and for the observation of environmental changes encompassing large areas.
“The new station makes it possible to develop a national observation system for the environment that is independent of other countries and enables increasingly efficient preparation for natural disasters and hazardous situations arising from the weather and the climate,” says Research Professor Jouni Pulliainen, Head of Arctic Research.
In addition, the new station enables the reception and processing of observations made by satellites anywhere in the world. Data received from satellites make it possible to monitor, for example, the Fukushima nuclear accident, the impacts of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and the havoc caused by surging seas. This improves situational awareness for faster and more efficient decision-making and for helping Finnish citizens in the area affected.
This refurbishment of the satellite station guarantees the creation and retention of jobs in the fields of high technology and research in Lapland. The acquisitions now made in Sodankylä are one of the biggest investments ever made by the Meteorological Institute in IT and observation equipment.
The station has a high level of automation and its capacity will be sufficient to support most current and planned satellites. The station is based on a Cassegrain antenna in the X-band frequency range; the primary mirror has a diameter of 7.3 metres. The focal point of the primary mirror has been raised about 10 metres above the ground in order to get an unobstructed view of the horizon and, thereby, the optimum contact time.
Research Professor Jouni Pulliainen, Head of Arctic Research at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 505895821
Research Scientist Petteri Ahonen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 401990574