Inauguration of the DLR ground station in Inuvik
DLR’s new satellite data receiving station in Inuvik, northwestern Canada, was officially inaugurated on 10 August 2010. Representatives of several Canadian space and political organisations travelled to Inuvik for the event, as did we from DLR. The beautiful weather seemed tailor-made for celebrating the cooperation between Canada and Germany, and the event closed with an enjoyable reception.
DLR, along with other space organisations, has a worldwide network of ground stations to ensure immediate and secure reception of satellite data. While the locations of ground stations for geostationary satellites can be chosen from a vast range of geographical areas, satellites with a polar orbit, such as TerraSAR-X or TanDEM-X, require ground stations near the poles to offer the best possible coverage for reception of their signals.
In the context of the TanDEM-X mission, one also has to bear in mind that the amount of data being sent is enormous. For this reason and also taking into account other constraining factors, we chose Inuvik for the new ground station. Things like obtaining project finance from the Helmholtz Association (Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren; HGF), identification of the exact location, getting authorisations and permits and coming to an agreement with local Inuit communities, installation on the permafrost and commissioning – all seem simple if just listed like this, but in reality they are all significant challenges. As a civil engineer, the special conditions of the site, including the permafrost and extreme temperatures (from +30 °C in the summer to winter temperatures of -40 °C) were reason enough to amaze me. I’d like to take this opportunity, therefore, to thank all those who supported the project and implemented it. If any one of the links in the chain had broken (HGF, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie; BMWi), Canadian authorities, Inuit communities, suppliers, shipping agents, construction companies, commissioning engineers), the whole project would probably have failed.
The inauguration itself was especially noteworthy. A number of speeches (Stuart Salter from our Canadian partner, the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS), Floyd Roland, Premier of the Canadian Northwest Territories, Denny Rodgers, Mayor of Inuvik, and representatives of the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit communities), with their very different but always Canadian point of view, followed my opening thanks and welcome. The local celebrations ended with an Inuit blessing and an exchange of gifts, followed by a reception in the city. A representative of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) was also present.
Tribal elders Rosi Albert (Inuvialuit) and Winston Moses (Gwich’in) inaugurate the DLR ground station in Inuvik. Credit: DLR, CC-BY-NC..
We found our personal conversations, in which a high regard for DLR and its staff was repeatedly expressed, very pleasant, and they underlined the acceptance and support we have experienced from the Canadian side. The Canadian north is of great political significance and foreign activities are thus sometimes regarded with scepticism. In this case, we experienced an optimal pairing of your perseverance and dependability with DLR’s reputation and it is this that has assured our success – THANK YOU!
Translated from the German original.
Inauguration of the DLR ground station in Inuvik, Canada. Left to right: Erhard Diedrich, DLR; Jan Wörner, Chairman of the DLR Board, Floyd Roland, Premier of the Canadian Northwest Territories, Stuart Salter, CCRS; Denny Rodgers, Mayor of Inuvik, Karl Magnusson, Swedish Space Corporation SSC, Nelly Cournoyea, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Ryan Johnson, Iunctus Geomatics, Bruce Mann, Canada Department of Foreign Affairs. Credit: DLR.
Top left: the DLR satellite ground station, Inuvik, Canada. DLR will use the new ground station in particular for the reception of data for the German TanDEM-X satellite mission. Using the large, 13-metre antenna, partner countries Germany and Canada as well as scientists from around the world and other external users will be able to access important satellite data, process and evaluate them. Credit: DLR.
Top right: Sign as you reach Inuvik. Credit: DLR.