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Russia to launch space project to monitor the Arctic in 2010

 Russia's Lavochkin research and production association said on Tuesday it would start implementing a space research project to monitor the Earth's polar regions in 2010.

The project, approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin, envisions using a new satellite cluster, called "Arktika," to provide environmental monitoring data for accurate weather forecasts and to aid national socio-economic development.

"A mid-January meeting of the military-industrial committee under the Russian government decided to launch the Arktika project in 2010," said Vladimir Yefanov, deputy general director of the Lavochkin association.

"The concept of the Arktika satellite cluster has been developed and submitted to the Russian government for consideration," he added.

The cost of the project is estimated at 30 billion rubles ($1.23 billion).

Anatoly Perminov, director of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), said in December last year that in the last 15 years the national aerospace environmental monitoring system for the Arctic has virtually ceased to exist. The lack of authentic and up-to-date regional information makes it impossible to compile accurate weather forecasts for northern Russia and the world.

Most initial weather data for the Arctic regions comes from international geostationary satellites, which cannot effectively scan the Earth's high latitudes. The Lavochkin NPO wants to solve this problem by developing a highly elliptical weather-satellite system to provide a reliable picture of Arctic conditions.

Russian experts propose launching five satellites, including two Arktika-M satellites with optical monitoring systems, an Arktika-R satellite with radars, indispensable during polar nights, and two Arktika-MS telecommunications satellites, which will handle telecommunications.

The new satellite cluster will be able to scan the entire Arctic, primarily the oil-and-gas shelf, all the way to the North Pole, and will help develop new deposits of natural resources in remote regions in Russia's north.

RIA Novosti

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