Category: Feature

  • Mr. ALOMAR

    He has been working at ALOMAR almost as long as the building itself, and drives up and down the mountain to the observatory every day. Some even call him Mr. ALOMAR, meet Reidar Lyngra.

    A man stands in front of an octagonal En mann står foran en åttekantet bygning, hvor du ser fire av sidene. Bygningen er rød og hvit, med flat topp og gjerde rundt.
    Photo: Andøya Space

    It’s Monday, and Reidar Lyngra gets in the car in Oksebåsen. He is going up to the ALOMAR Observatory. The characteristic octagonal building located at the top of the mountain Ramnan in Andøya, where he works as Technical Manager for Ground-Based Instruments at Andøya Space.

    Reidar has worked at ALOMAR since 1996, almost as long as the building itself. and drives up and down the mountain every day.

    If you are familiar with the weather and climate on Andøya, you probably know that it is not always suitable weather for going to the mountains, but it is rare that the weather is so bad that he cannot drive up.

    “There have been a few trips where we have had to walk up, but there are not many. This is mostly thanks to the ploughing that is done in winter when it can be challenging driving conditions,” says Reidar. “If the weather does not allow it, we work from the headquarter in Oksebåsen.”

    Panoramic view at work

    ALOMAR stands for Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research, an abbreviation that has been so widely used that it almost has become a proper name. The observatory is operated by Andøya Space and was founded through an international collaboration between Norway and Germany. Today, researchers from Norway, Germany, Spain and the United States monitor and map processes in the atmosphere from ground level up to 100 km. 

    Reidar is one of four who have a permanent workplace at ALOMAR. There, he makes sure that all the instruments work as they should and is responsible for, among other things, operation, some maintenance of various instruments and reporting to the institutes who owns the instruments. In addition, he is responsible for some radars and instruments that are placed in Oksebåsen, at Andenes and at Saura.

    “A typical working day at the start of the week often involves checking the building and the instruments after the weekend,” says Reidar. “If there has been a lot of wind, it happens that some of the instruments needs some adjustments.”

    Photo: Andøya Space

    Up on the roof, Reidar checks that all the instruments are in place. On this day there is almost no wind, which is pretty unusual, and none of the instruments need adjustment.

    Important information about the atmosphere

    From the top roof of ALOMAR, the view is panoramic, and Reidar is one of the first to see the sun when it becomes visible again at the beginning of January.
    ALOMAR currently houses many different instruments, such as lidar, radars, sun photometers, brewers, GUVs, riometers, radiosonde station, ceilometers and camera systems. These instruments take measurements that provide data used for important information about the atmosphere.

    They often have researchers or employees from the institutions that own the instruments visiting. Then Reidar assists with both transport up and down the mountain, and his ALOMAR expertise.

    On this particular day, two employees from Group de Optica Atmosferica Universidad de Valladolid are replacing some of the instruments on the top roof of ALOMAR. These are so-called CIMEL instruments, which, among other things, measure the intensity of solar rays at different wavelengths and water vapor.  Then Reidar helps where needed.

    Well known light rays

    “The instrument that most people probably will recognize from ALOMAR is the RMR lidar. It is the instrument that creates the two green light rays in the sky during the wintertime”, says Reidar.

    If you have been to Andøya during winter and clear weather, you have probably noticed the two green light rays from the RMR lidar. The lidar is used to routinely observe the wind and temperature from 30 to 80 kilometers when the sky is clear. Wave activity and the dynamic state of the atmosphere are also studied, and these studies are very important for understanding the radiation and energy balance in the atmosphere and thus the development of the Earth’s climate. 

    Breathtaking office view

    Reidar sits at his desk in his office, looking out over the mountains. There is probably no one who can deny that his view is breathtaking.

    “Even though I see the same view every day, I don’t get tired of it,” says Reidar.

    The two visitors from the University of Valladolid have now finished their day’s work session on the roof and have to go down to one of the ground stations in Andenes to install an instrument there. Reidar is getting ready to drive them down.

    “One day I might have a full day at ALOMAR, and the next day it might be an instrument somewhere else that needs a check or maintenance. The days are rarely the same, but it’s just nice to have varied days”, Reidar concludes, before he gets in the car to drive back down from the mountain.

    Photo: Martin Flügge

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • New launch pad progressing

    Andøya Space Sub-Orbital is currently building a new launch pad for sounding rockets in order to handle multiple rocket launches in the same launch campaign.

    – Sounding rockets have grown in sizes in the past few years, and we needed to bolster our ability to handle not only that, but also multiple rockets in the same launch campaign, says Hans-Arne Eilertsen, project manager for the new launch pad.

    Andøya Space Sub-Orbital has been hosting many campaigns involving multiple launches, not only from Andøya, but Svalbard as well.

    – Such as the combined Trice-2 and Visions campaigns, two Nasa campaigns where Trice-2 launched two sounding rockets from Andøya, and then Visions launched two rockets from our launch site at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, just a few minutes later, says Eilertsen.

    Launching multiple research rockets to different altitude regions of the atmosphere, allows the scientists to get simultaneous measurements, providing better insights into the physical processes in the atmosphere.

    – Andøya Space Sub-Orbital really is just about the only place in the world where you can perform these massive research campaigns that focus on the highly interesting Cusp-region, says Eilertsen.

    The Cusp-region refers to an area of the magnetosphere, where it creates a funnel down to Earth’s center. Andøya Space Sub-Orbital’s launch sites on Andøya and Svalbard are the only way for sounding rockets to do measurements inside that funnel.

    Illustration of Earth’s magnetosphere and the cusp regions.

    The new launch pad is completely made in Norway.

    – The planning phase was done by Polarkonsult from Harstad, the retractable shelter has been built by Karstein Kristiansen, a local contractor, says Eilertsen. – And the steerable launch rail is being built by Oil-Tech AS in Stavanger. When complete, it will be one of the world’s most modern and capable launch pads for sounding rockets.

    Photo: Oil-Tech AS.

    The new launch pad is also well suited for technology testing and
    demonstration missions.

    – Those missions aren’t necessarily all about reaching space, and might prefer to launch in lower elevations, which this new launch pad will be able to accommodate.

    – The work is progressing according to plan, says Eilertsen. – We aim to be ready to host the first launch campaigns already this fall.


    – We’re also building this new launch pad to fulfill our obligations in the EASP-agreement, says Kolbjørn Blix, VP of Andøya Space Sub-Orbital. – It’s an agreement between five European countries, where Andøya Space is committed to providing suborbital launch capabilities.

    – Two of the suborbital launch pads at Andøya are reserved for Nasa use only, which currently leaves only one pad available for European missions. Building this new launch pad will enable us to support more complex non-Nasa missions in the future, Blix finishes.

    Read more about the EASP-agreement.

    About Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

    Andøya Space Sub-Orbital is a business division of Andøya Space focusing on providing a launch site and related services for suborbital research rockets. Andøya Space Sub-Orbital have two launch sites, one on Andøya and one at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. The business division also offers advanced engineering services. In addition, the division operates the Alomar Observatory, and is host for several scientific ground-based instruments.

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • A space talk with Laura-Kristin Scholtz: Women in science

    February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and we used the occasion to talk with Laura-Kristin Scholtz, a mechanical engineer who works as a project manager at Andøya Space Sub-Orbital.

    Andøya Space is a company which empowers scientists in their research, by enabling them to launch research rockets, perform remote sensing and providing other types of technical support.

    To do that our engineers need to employ many of the same principles as the scientists themselves: observation, experimentation and analysis to create solutions that sometimes have to function under extreme conditions. This work involves data collection, critical thinking, collaboration and a systematic approach. When we meet with Laura-Kristin, she’s busy doing just that.

    Can you tell us a little bit about what you are working on right now?

    – I am currently working with the development of a scientific instrument called «Holoscene», she says. – As it is under development there are always new issues coming up which need a solution. For example, I am currently designing special tools to mount and de-mount parts in the instrument, that cannot be reached otherwise. To solve some of the problems, I need to do some research first and learn about new topics, to find different possibilities and decide what to do.

    What motivated you to pursue a career within engineering?

    – I played a lot with Lego and specifically Lego Technic as a child, Scholtz says. – And I wanted to understand why planes fly. Also, I loved going to the technical museum in Munich called «Deutsches Museum», where I was especially impressed by the science shows, and the displays of cut-open machines, engines, or bridge parts to see the inside and how they work.

    – Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, I didn’t have the feeling, that I couldn’t choose whatever I wanted to do in my life. So, I wasn’t afraid to start studying engineering.

    A portrait of Laura-Kristin Scholtz in front of her current project.
    Laura-Kristin Scholtz and the project she’s working on, Holoscene.

    Was it a popular study with other women?

    – We were 10% female (of 1 400 students) when I started studying mechanical engineering. Only when I did my compulsory 8-week internship (pre-internship for studying mechanical engineering) in a small metal workshop, I sometimes got curious questions from external people. However, my colleagues always defended me and women in general working as craftsmen, saying «You don’t need to be strong or tall as a craftsman, you just need the right tools».

    How can we all inspire the next generation of female engineers and encourage more women to join the field?

    – To inspire the next generation of female engineers, we have to make them curious about all the engineering and science which surrounds us, Scholtz says.

    – Basically, everything that surrounds us has some kind of engineering involved, this could be automated production machines for things that we use on a daily basis or ergonomics engineering for the design of everyday tools like pens or chairs or computer keyboards.

    – How we should encourage them – by showing them and by letting them try and fail and try again, until they find a solution, Scholtz finishes.

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • The Grand Challenge Initiative explained

    Between 2018 and 2021, 12 research rockets from three countries was launched from Andøya Space in a coordinated effort to study cusp region space physics. The effort was coordinated in the Grand Challenge project Cusp. Now, the Grand Challenge continues with new projects, but what is the Grand Challenge?

    ‒ The idea behind Grand Challenge was actually created by myself and professor Jøran Moen from the University of Oslo, says Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital at Andøya Space. ‒ And the basic notion was sharing. If one research mission creates n number of research data, then five research mission should give you 5*n data. It is simple math, really.

    ‒ Each participant in a Grand Challenge project pays for one mission, share their research data, and in return gets access to the research data from all the other participants. Of course, the data set needs to be relevant, which is why we create these Grand Challenge projects focusing on a particular subject. By taking these independently initiated missions and coordinating them we saw a tremendous increase in scientific return, says Blix.

    ‒ We did the first Grand Challenge project, called project Cusp, in 2018, together with scientists from Norway, Japan and USA, says Blix. ‒ Now, the second project, called M/LT, is underway. And we’re busy planning the third, which is named Solar Max.

    Project Cusp

    A project that was designed to advance the common understanding of cusp region space physics through coordinated experimental and theoretical research using ground based instruments, modeling, sounding rocket investigations, and satellite based instruments.

    The cusp is the part of the Earth’s magnetic field that funnels down into the polar regions. The ionosphere is the upper part of the atmosphere. Here particles from the solar wind, trapped in the cusp, cause the aurora borealis.

    NASA made a video about one of the missions within the Grand Challenge Project Cusp.

    Project M/LT

    Participants in the M/LT project studies the mesosphere and the lower thermosphere, which are layers in the middle atmosphere, using sounding rockets, balloons and groundbased remote sensing. They are especially looking at the potential impact small processes can have on a global scale.

    Project Solar Max

    With the next solar maximum imminent, project Solar Max aims to do a repeat of project Cusp, which was performed around solar minimum.

    Stronger together

    ‒ International cooperation is very important in the Grand Challenge, says Blix. ‒ Scientists from three countries participated in the first project, and then from nine countries in the second project. Grand Challenge really has been a win-win situation for all participants, not only for the sounding rocket community, but also for the balloon and remote sensing communities.

    ‒ Every research platform has its advantages, but there isn’t one single platform that can do everything. For example, satellites can’t easily do in-situ measurements in altitudes below 300 kilometers. It is only by combining data from satellites, research rockets, balloons, and ground based instruments that you can get a complete overview of a physical process in the atmosphere, says Blix. ‒ And that’s what we’re trying to do with the Grand Challenge Initiative.

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • Developing IRSA, a monitoring service for the Arctic

    Integrated Remote Sensing for the Arctic (IRSA) is an international collaboration working on developing a system for situational awareness in the Arctic. IRSA will combine data from satellites, high and medium altitude long endurance drones, autonomous sea vessels and more.

    – Andøya Space is a part of IRSA together with the companies C-Core in Canada, My Defence System Integration in Denmark and Boeing in the US, says Tony Klæboe at Andøya Space Defence.

    IRSA’s long-term goal is to offer services for monitoring various types of human activities and environmental factors in the northern regions, to civilian as well as military customers.

    – Both public and private actors want a clearer situational image of what is going on in the Arctic, not only concerning human activities such as air and ship traffic, land use and development, but also environmental factors such as pollution, animal migrations, sea ice extent, temperature measurements and more, and for search and rescue, Klæboe says.

    Andøya Space’s aircraft for research and testing

    For testing methods and procedures for IRSA, Andøya Space Defense runs the ArcticX exercises.

    – Here we use Andøya Space’s own aircraft, a Diamond DA62 MPP twin-engine propeller aircraft especially designed for research and technology testing, says Klæboe.

    Andøya Space also uses this aircraft to monitor the areas on and around the island that are closed for public access during launches and missile tests.

    Andøya Space offers flights for research and technology testing with this plane to customers.

    – During ArcticX, we use the aircraft to simulate a drone taking pictures from the air. We practice on, among other things, outlining missions for the drone before take-off and giving it new tasks mid-flight based on satellite images of places and situations we want to take a closer look at, Klæboe says.

    Combining satellite monitoring with planes and drones

    Satellites can monitor large and remote areas quickly and frequently and are thus well suited for obtaining a good overview fast.

    – Airplanes and drones monitor smaller areas but can examine them more closely. Thus, we practice combining the use of satellite data with surveillance from aircraft and drones, says Klæboe.

    During ArcticX Andøya Space Defense has tested, among other things, how quickly the aircraft can get on its wings and find ships that satellite data show have switched off their AIS system.

    The AIS signals reveals a ship’s identity, position, direction and speed, and all ships above 300 gross tons are required to carry this system.

    – Depending on the distance to the ship, the weather and other conditions, we can have the plane in the air in just a few hours, Klæboe says.

    A fruitful collaboration for the future

    In 2024 Andøya Space Defence will run ArcticX from the 17th to the 20th June.

    – We’re doing the exercise in the summer because that’s the time of year when we have the most daylight and the best weather, says Klæboe.

    Tony Klæboe, Andøya Space Defence

    In 2024 the exercise will include subsea vessels to test monitoring of, among other things, underwater pipe lines and cables.

    – IRSA is a fruitful collaboration for Andøya Space and has great potential to lead to services that will be very beneficial to offer our customers, Klæboe concludes.

    More information

    Please contact Andøya Space Defence for questions regarding our services.

  • An airborne platform for research and testing

    Andøya Space has its own airplane with pilots and mission specialists for performing flights for scientific research, technology demonstration, maritime surveillance, search and rescue, and other types of missions, for both civilian and military customers.

    – Our aircraft is a Diamond DA62 MPP (Multi-Purpose Platform) twin-engine propeller plane. It can accommodate four people on board, two pilots for flying the aircraft and two mission specialists who operate the equipment and instruments used for the research or testing, says Dag Helge Karlsen at Andøya Space.

    He is one of the two pilots of Andøya Space’s aircraft and has led the work to get in place the documentation and procedures necessary for offering flights to customers.

    A plane designed for research and testing

    The Diamond DA62 MPP plane is 9 meters long and has a wing span of 14.5 meters.

    – We have a nominal max flight time of up to five hours, depending on factors such as the number of people on board, the type and weight of the equipment, how much fuel is needed and more, Karlsen says.

    This particular type of airplane has been designed from the ground up to function as an aviation platform for scientific research and technology testing.

    For example, the nose cone can contain camera, radar or other types of sensors. The plane also has room for various kinds of instruments and sensors behind special pods on the outside of the plane.

    – Moreover, the plane is cost effective because it requires relatively little fuel compared to other planes of a similar size, Karlsen adds.

    Used for in-house missions

    Andøya Space purchased the plane in 2021, and until now it has been used mainly for in-house missions.

    – For example, before customers of Andøya Space Defence test their missiles, we use the plane to surveil and monitor the test area from the air, to make certain that there are no land vehicles or maritime vessels around, says Karlsen.

    For such missions, the on board camera is used, in addition to maps of maritime traffic updated in real time.

    – If we discover any vessels in the test range, we identify them so that they can be contacted by radio and notified about the activities that are planned in the area, Karlsen says.

    Flies all year round

    Andøya Space has a customer for the flight services already, which they will perform missions for several times a year.

    – We offer direct services to several different types of customers. According to their needs we can mount a variety of equipment, sensors, antennae, and other instruments on our plane, says Karlsen.

    Moreover, Andøya Space offers flights all year round, and can perform campaigns lasting days or weeks as needed.

    – We have the greatest number of flights in the spring, summer and autumn, but we also fly during the winter, Karlsen says.

    Three pilots in all

    Currently, Andøya Space has two pilots working with the plane, and another will be added to the team shortly.

    In addition, Andøya Space has four mission specialists that can operate the test instruments during the flights.

    – Andøya Space is a specialized operations organization (SPO) that can offer a variety of commercial aviation services, Karlsen finishes.

    More information

    Please contact Andøya Space Defence for questions regarding our services.

  • Satellites as everyday tools


    The world needs to become more sustainable. We must reduce both our ecological footprint and our emissions. But how do we know that the different measures will work? This is where satellites come in.

    – The climate changes we are facing are global, and it’s all connected, says Birgit Vildalen, leader of the environmental team at Andøya Space. – Emissions doesn’t just stop by the border; they have consequences for the entire Earth. Satellites can help us see the big picture.

    The climate changes is measurable through parameters such as increased winds and more precipitation. Important infrastructure, i.e. drains, pipes, and power distribution networks, are rarely designed to handle these increases.

    – Sustainability isn’t just about reducing our footprint, but also develop and use new technology that can contribute to surveillance and preventive actions on a global level, says Vildalen.

    Earth observation satellites continuously measure the atmosphere, the oceans, land areas and the ice in the polar regions. They measure temperature, precipitation, ocean currents, wave height, ocean levels, greenhouse gases, and a series of other parameters that are important to understand the global climate.

    – A satellite in polar orbit will lap the Earth 16 times every day, and provide immediate feedback on Earth’s health, says Vildalen. – But it will also show us the development over time, which enables researchers to make predictions about the near future, suggest actions and give decision makers time to prepare critical infrastructure.

    Multispectral cameras are important tools onboard the satellites.

    Daily operations

    – Data from satellites can be used to optimize daily operations, says Vildalen. – There are systems now which can tell the captain of a container ship that she can sail with lower speeds and still reach her destination in time. Saving fuel and CO2 emission at the same time.

    – Up to date data on winds, ocean currents and wave height can be used to optimize the sailing routes when it comes to fuel consumption and at the same time ensure safe vessel operations.

    Farmers can also benefit from up-to-date satellite data.

    – Satellites can photograph large fields using multispectral cameras, and «see» the status of the soil, says Vildalen. – It can give the farmer an early warning. Maybe she should adjust the nutrients she’s using.

    A satellite’s life in space

    – Satellites are amazing tools, say Jon Harr, Director of operations at Andøya Spaceport. – Advances in technology has not only made them physically smaller, but also smarter.

    – Traditionally they we’re all the size of a truck, but now some of them can be as tiny as microwave ovens, says Harr. – Small satellites is both cheaper to manufacture and cheaper to launch. But all satellites have a limited life-span and needs to be replaced after a few years.

    UV-radiation, space weather and large temperature fluctuations are some of the effects on satellites in orbit, which will take its toll on solar arrays, batteries, and computers.

    – Small satellites have an average life-span of five years before the electronics dies out, says Harr. – But sometimes they may live longer. The Norwegian small satellite AISSAT-1 functioned perfectly for ten years.

    It is important to have a plan for what will happen to the satellite after end-of-life, to avoid it becoming space junk.

    – Satellites in low Earth orbit is not in 100% vacuum but experiences a tiny resistance from the atmosphere – also known as atmospheric drag, says Harr. – It is enough to eventually slow the satellite down so much so that it drops in altitude and then burns up in the atmosphere.

    Norwegian smallsats are already at work.


    – Smaller and cheaper satellites means that space no longer is the domain of governments with deep pockets, says Harr. – NewSpace is about private businesses and organizations moving in, and even businesses which traditionally haven’t seen space as a resource.

    When Andøya Spaceport begin the commercial operations at the end of 2023, Norway and Europe will have a complete value-chain within the space industry; from manufacturing of satellites, to launch, to download of satellite data and downstream customers.

    – Norway already has a fleet of small satellites in orbit, says Harr. – Their main task is to monitor ship traffic inside the country’s economic zone, and the data they transmit back is used actively by both the Norwegian Coastal Administration, and the Norwegian coast guard.

    – Avalanche warnings, forest fires, pollution, algal blooms, farmer’s fields, broadband at the cabin, interactive maps and so on. It is basically only our own imaginations which limits how satellites can help us in our everyday lives, Harr finishes.

    More information

    Do you have questions about the Norwegian spaceport?

  • How can satellites help during disasters?


    When disasters strike, help from satellites can make a huge difference to ensure that the best and most accurate information needed for the situation is made accessible.

    – The satellite data needed during disasters are first and foremost from optical and radar satellites, says Jon Harr, Operations Director at Andøya Spaceport. – They can map the affected area, see the full extent of the damage, and spot entry or exit points and safe zones.

    Thus, optical and radar satellite data are vital for evaluating the scope of the disaster, for emergency services entering or working in the disaster area. They are used for search and rescue, setting up assembly points, organizing evacuation and more.

    – For emergency services, establishing phone and internet communication via satellite is also vitally important, as all ground-based communication may be knocked out in the disaster zone, Harr says.

    Establishing satellite communication for emergency work usually doesn’t take much time, as such satellites already cover the entire Earth.

    Can provide vital help

    For all types of disasters, whether caused by hurricane, tornado, flooding, landslide, earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, drought, famine or other phenomena, the International Charter Space and Major Disasters provides free and quick access to satellite data for any country that needs it.

    The Charter coordinates the delivery of several types of satellite data from many different organizations and satellite operators. This ensures that the best and most accurate information needed for the situation is made accessible.

    With new technology and computer algorithms, even small satellites can provide vital help when disaster strikes.

    Small satellites are used for communication, earth observation, navigation, as well as search and rescue. Andøya Space will launch small satellites in 2023.

    Coverage and providers

    Even for optical or radar satellites, data from any place on Earth only takes from a few minutes to a few hours to obtain, depending on the type of satellite, its orbit and general coverage.

    – Several commercial providers offer optical and radar satellite data in high resolution, Harr says. – They can quickly deliver very detailed images of the affected area.

    Examples of such satellites are the commercial satellite constellations Airbus, Maxar, Planet and WorldView.

    – These commercial satellites provide data for corporations and other private organizations, as well as governments and other public actors, Harr says.

    Commercially, earth observation data are utilized for monitoring land use, development, construction, forestry, ice, maritime activities, water levels, and much more.

    Data processing

    The price for a single commercial satellite image that has already been taken varies depending on resolution, but offers can be found at approximately 15 to 20 US dollars per square kilometer.

    – The cost will be higher for images of higher resolution, Harr says. – Or for images at other wavelengths than visible light, larger size, greater coverage and if the satellite needs to be pointed at a specific area which it usually doesn’t cover.

    However, medium resolution images of predefined areas from for example EU’s Copernicus satellites are available free of charge.

    How can small satellites help?

    – Currently, a higher resolution requires a larger optical system and hence a larger satellite, Harr says. – But small satellites tend to use lower orbits, which can provide a high resolution for smaller optical systems.

    Coupled with specialized computer algorithms and data processing, small satellites are able to provide resolutions near those provided by larger satellites.

    – Because small satellites are much faster and less costly to develop and launch, they will become very useful for disaster relief in the near future, Harr says. – This is in addition to all the other applications small satellites are useful for.

    By launching small satellites, Andøya Space will become a significant factor in ensuring that the orbital infrastructure necessary for monitoring the environment and for managing disasters is present.

    Copernicus Emergency Service

    Norway is not a direct member of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters, but has access to the charter via membership in the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT.

    Because Norway is a member of the European Copernicus Program, Norway has access to Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS). This provides all member countries with satellite data during disasters.

    Norway has activated CEMS five times, in 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021, due to flooding or storm.

    More information

    For more information please contact Andøya Spaceport

  • Where does the water in rain and snow come from?

    The research project ISLAS studies the water cycle in the Norwegian Sea, and where the precipitation in Norway comes from during different weather events. This spring, the ISLAS scientists made simultaneous measurements at Andøya and other locations.

    Isotopic Links to Atmospheric Water’s Sources (ISLAS) is a research project funded by the European Research Council that investigates the water cycle, including its processes during evaporation, transport and mixing, cloud formation and precipitation.

    – The hydrological cycle, with its feedbacks related to water vapor and clouds, is a large source of uncertainty in weather prediction and climate models, says Harald Sodemann, professor in meteorology at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen and member of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.

    This uncertainty is linked to several of the current major challenges in meteorology and climate research. These challenges include the forecasting of extreme weather events, preparing for the impacts of man-made climate change, but also the understanding of the paleoclimate record from the past.

    However, using precise measurements of stable isotopes in water vapor, rain and snow, the scientists can find out where the water in precipitation comes from, and how it changes from liquid to solid or vapor, and back to liquid again, during its journey through the water cycle in the atmosphere.

    Illustration of cold-air outbreaks and atmospheric river in the Nordic Seas region
    The ISLAS project sampled the local water cycle in the Nordic Seas region at Andenes with stable isotope instrumentation. Image: Harald Sodemann

    A natural laboratory

    -Because the Arctic, the Norwegian Sea and the coast of Norway together create distinct evaporation events, shallow transport processes of water, and swift formation of precipitation, the entire water cycle can be studied here, says Sodemann.

    This is why the ISLAS team visited Andøya Space and its atmospheric observatory Alomar. Together with colleagues from other universities, the ISLAS scientists used Alomar’s lidar and radar systems to investigate ice crystals in clouds and precipitation, and how they change from ice to rain.

    The team also used their own instruments to measure the size and number of raindrops, the stable isotopes in water vapor, and other aspects of the water cycle.

    – We brought a lot of instruments to Andøya in order to do many types of measurements at the same time in the same location, so that we can gain a detailed understanding of the processes of the water cycle here, says Sodemann.

    Simultaneous measurements

    The ISLAS instruments were located both at Alomar, at 380 meters height, and near sea level below the mountain where Alomar is located. In this way the scientists hoped to gain information about how much water raindrops absorb as they fall through the lower atmosphere, as well as data about other precipitation processes that take place on the way from cloud to ground.

    In addition, the scientists had similar sensors in Tromsø, in order to detect the horizontal gradient between Andøya and Tromsø.

    – Even though these locations are not that far apart, we nevertheless expect clear differences between them, for example the time when a storm arrives at both places, Sodemann says.

    Other sensors are placed in Bergen on the west coast of Norway and at Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard in the high Arctic.

    Improve weather forecasting

    This year’s research campaign for ISLAS was intense, but short. Already on the 1st of April 2021 the scientists completed their measurements and returned home.

    – We nevertheless expect to obtain the data we need, because the highly variable weather here at Andøya gives us many different meteorological events within a short period of time, says Sodemann.

    He and the ISLAS team plan to return to Andøya next spring for more data from the same locations, while hoping to add measurements by plane and ship.

    The results from ISLAS will be used to improve mathematical models of weather and climate, including short-term and high-resolution weather forecasting.

    In addition to the participants from Norway, the ISLAS campaign involves scientists from universities and research institutions both in Europe and in North America.

    – We see that close collaboration with scientists at other research institutions and in other parts of the world is very important to achieve our research goals. For us, it seems essential that what we do creates shared knowledge that benefits society as a whole, Sodemann says.

    A service provider for science

    – We are very pleased to welcome the ISLAS scientists to Andøya, says Michael Gausa, Director of Research and Development at Andøya Space.

    Andøya Space aims to offer operational drone and aircraft services for scientists. Commercial drone operations, as well as training and certification services for these, are already well established. The drone services have a wide range of applications, from maritime surveillance and resource management to search and rescue operations, construction inspection and many more.

    – The ISLAS campaign is an important step to complete our portfolio for scientific airborne operations. It enables us to listen closely to our guests in order to improve our infrastructure and knowledge, and to better reach the international research community and inform them of our drone services for scientific purposes, Gausa says.

    Andøya Space has recently acquired an airplane, which in the future can perform in-situ and remote sensing measurements from the air, in the air, and of the air. This will open new doors for Andøya Space, which has a decades-long experience in sub-orbital launches of sounding rockets and research balloons and is building a launch site for small satellites.

    Andøya and its location well above the Arctic circle, on the coast of the Norwegian Sea, is especially well suited for space, atmospheric and climate research.

    – With our newly acquired plane we will soon have the capacity to be a full-service provider for scientific research that is dependent on measurements by drone or by plane, Gausa says.

  • Drones for keeping an eye on the ocean

    Managing the natural resources of the ocean, the coastline and the continental shelf requires surveillance of large areas.

    Traditionally this have been done with satellites in combination with manned ocean vessels and aircraft. Patrolling and controlling borders and delineations in international waters is part of resource management at sea. As is detecting and tracing oil spills from ships, the dumping of refuse by vessels, release of bilge water with non-native species, tracking air pollution from maritime traffic, and more.

    Drones and remote-controlled vessels, either in the air or on the waves, are on their way to making maritime surveillance easier, more effective and less costly. In maritime surveillance drones are used among other for monitoring maritime traffic and activities in fishing and breeding grounds.

    Image of ocean and rocks near shore

    Drones for scientific research

    Approximately 71 percent of the Earth is covered by ocean, and there is still much we have yet to discover in and about it.

    Drones are used for documenting and mapping algal blooms that may threaten fisheries or aquaculture, or plastic refuse that collects on the beaches along the coast and are a hazard to wildlife. Because drones are smaller and disturb wildlife much less than manned vessels do, they may collect other types of data than traditional monitoring methods.

    Thus, we are likely to see an increasing number of unmanned vehicles, not only in the air, but also at sea in the future. These unmanned vehicles will often work in combination with manned vehicles, satellites, and in-situ sensors.

    Illustration of drone helicopter operating in rain with coast guard ship in the background
    Andøya Space is testing the use of drone helicopters

    Helicopter drones at sea

    Due to the greater distances and longer flight times over open sea, the drones used for maritime surveillance tend to be larger than drones used over land. The market for maritime surveillance by drones is nevertheless growing quickly. Maritime surveillance may also require drones that can be deployed and operated from ships at sea. Andøya Space are therefore testing the use of special drone helicopters onboard ships of the Norwegian Coast Guard and the Governor in Svalbard. Such helicopter drones may also assist in emergency operations at sea in the Arctic, a region where the harsh environment requires a particularly rapid and accurate response during emergencies.

    Illustration of drone flying

    What we do

    At Andøya Space we deliver information, data, and documentation to our clients through drones, including drones for maritime surveillance. We have been operating drones since the 1990s and are a full capacity assistance provider for all stages of drone operations, for maritime surveillance, scientific research, construction inspection and insurance, emergency response, search and rescue, and more.

    One of our largest customers in civilian maritime surveillance today is the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies for oil spill preparedness, prevention, mapping and documentation. We provide an around-the-clock drone service in case of oil spill events, offering certified drone pilots if needed.

    Among our partners in the fields of science and environmental protection are the Norwegian Institute for Water Research and Innovation Norway.

    Andøya Space is also part of a consortium led by Boeing’s Phantom Works; the Integrated Remote Sensing for the Arctic (IRSA) Development Group. IRSA wants to increase the situational awareness north of the Arctic circle using a network of satellites, drones and ground-based installations. IRSA aims to deploy drones in the air, on the ocean and below the ocean surface. The network will aid both search and rescue operations as well as contribute to the science communities. Data from IRSA will, among other things, help the Arctic nations to monitor climate change impact.

    Mer informasjon

    Kontakt Andøya Space.

  • Sustainability and space – how satellites help

    More sustainable living includes reducing poverty and hunger, increasing health and well-being, ensuring quality education, having responsible consumption and production, as well as caring for life on land and in water.

    These and other aspects of sustainability are included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the UN member states in 2015.

    Satellites and the space sector enable and support these goals in many different ways. The importance of space for communities all over the world will only increase in the future as satellites take on even more essential tasks and become even more important to our societies.

    Commerce, education, health services and more

    Today, telecommunication satellites provide radio, TV and internet signals to all corners of the world. This communication is used for business, education, health services, entertainment, social contact, and much more.

    Thus, satellites bring vital communication even to societies that are so remote or inaccessible that reaching them by transportation is difficult and costly, ensuring and transforming life here.

    For example satellites enable small digital bank terminals in remote locations in Africa, increasing the potential for trade and productivity in these communities.

    At the start of the Covid-19-pandemic, satellite-based telemedicine in Spain provided ambulance personnel quicker and more advanced help from specialist doctors that remained at the hospitals. This is just one example of how satellites through telemedicine may improve health services all over the world.

    Essential functions for modern societies

    Satellite navigation systems such as the American Global Positioning System, Europe’s Galileo, Russia’s GLONASS and China’s BeiDou provide signals for positioning, navigation and accurate time.

    These systems are essential for navigation for transport, commerce, and emergency services, but also for accurate positioning data for the construction of buildings, roads, oil wells and other complex structures.

    Satellite navigation systems also provide extremely accurate time. Such data are used in electrical and water grids, for financial transactions and in large computer systems, as well as other services vital to modern societies.

    Today, satellite navigation systems enable the mobile services market and millions of commercial services and applications the world over. In the future, autonomous vehicles and their markets will depend on accurate and ubiquitous navigation signals provided by satellites.

    Satellite image of Andøya
    Satellites cover enormous areas regularly.

    Protecting the Earth’s natural environment

    In order to protect the Earth’s natural environment and large-scale systems, we need to understand them and know how they change over time. This is the task of the Earth observation satellites.

    Because satellites can cover enormous, remote and inaccessible areas quickly and regularly, they are perhaps the best way to monitor the Earth and its systems.

    The European Copernicus program has, together with the European Space Agency, launched several operational satellites to monitor many different environmental factors.

    For example, one type of this program’s satellites provide radar measurements of sea ice and snow cover to see how the world’s ice caps and snow masses change over time.

    Another type of the Copernicus program’s satellites provide optical data of plant cover and vegetation, as well as of wetlands and coastlines. This is used for monitoring forest cutting, the health of food crops, coral reef bleaching, loss of wetlands due to drought or development, and more.

    Copernicus’ Sentinel-3 satellites observe the oceans and its surface temperature, wave height, wind speeds, and several other environmental factors. These data are used for monitoring tropical storms that may threaten communities on land, or surface temperature and ocean acidity that indicate changes in the world’s climate, to mention only a few applications.

    Illustration of Earth observation satellites
    Earth observation satellites are important tools to understand the natural environment we live in.

    Smaller satellites in the future

    As high technology becomes smaller and more accessible, satellites become smaller too, and can be built faster and cheaper, while still being able to perform the duties of larger satellites.

    Norway’s national satellites, AISSat-1, AISSat-2, NorSat-1 and NorSat-2, are all small satellites. Their main task is to monitor ship traffic, used for managing marine resources and oil spill detection to protect life in the ocean.

    HYPSO-1 and HYPSO-2 are Norwegian small satellites that will be launched in a few year’s time. They will be able to detect algal blooms in the ocean. In recent years such algal blooms have killed large amounts of fish and damaged the marine aquaculture business, important to many communities along the coast.

    Most small satellites launched today are used for communication, but in the future, small satellites are expected to perform more and more Earth observation tasks. Thus, small satellites may play an increasingly important role in ensuring and enabling sustainability all over the world in the years to come.

    More information

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