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The Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the world average over the past three decades and Moscow is seeking to develop the energy-rich region, investing in the Northern Sea Route for shipping along its long northern flank. when the ice melts.

The satellite successfully reached its intended orbit after being launched from the Kazakh Baikonur Cosmodrome by a Soyuz rocket, said Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, in a message on Twitter.

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

The Arktika-M will have a very elliptical orbit that passes high above northern latitudes, allowing it to monitor northern regions for long periods before descending back below Earth.

In right orbit, the satellite will be able to monitor and take images every 15 to 30 minutes of the Arctic, which cannot be observed continuously by satellites that orbit over the equator. from Earth, said Roscosmos.

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

“As more and more activity takes place in the Arctic and moves to higher latitudes, improving weather and ice forecasting capabilities is crucial,” said Mia Bennett, Geographer at the University of Hong Kong.

“There is also an element of data nationalism fueling all of this. Countries, especially those who see themselves as space powers, want to be able to rely on their own satellites and data to inform their activities, whether commercial or military. ,” she said.

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