The INUVIK site has been chosen carefully. Its geographical location corresponds perfectly to the Swedish Kiruna station on the opposite side of the Arctic, where DLR’s partner SSC has been receiving polar data for decades. Incorporating its own receiving station at O’Higgins (Antarctic), DLR is now operating a global network of stations that can record data from each polar orbiting satellite. This is an essential precondition, taking into account the extreme amount of data being recorded and transmitted by the TanDEM-X mission, and guarantees rapid response time with respect to observed phenomena.
Canada expects from this cooperation the intensification of satellite observation of the arctic region. The satellite data recorded at INUVIC will contribute substantially to sustainable development within the ecologically vulnerable arctic region, which is increasingly stressed by the exploration of oil, gas and mineral resources.
In the course of the conception and implementation of the receiving facilities, extreme challenges had to be mastered. INUVIK is situated in the permafrost region. Typical seasonal temperature variations lie in between -45C and 30C, where even in summer the ground thaws only to a max. depth of ½ meter. In order to guarantee the stability of the 31 ton antenna, 16 pillars of each 14m length had to be drilled into the ground. The antenna itself was transported by a convoy of trucks from its production site at Los Angeles via the Dempster Highway to the northernmost outpost of Canada, which can be reached by road. The journey was also used to set up GPS elevation profiles, to be used later as reference data for the calibration of TanDEM-X.
Having now completed the mechanical installation, the electronic components will be put into operation. First tests of the integrated system are scheduled to start in September. The entire work plan is synchronised with the launch of the TanDEM-X satellite expected to take place October, 21.
Besides the TanDEM-X data acquisition, the involved partners plan to develop the Inuvik site as data hub for global earth observation stations and for arctic environment research.