JPSS-1 Launch - it all started more than 20 years ago
20 years ago; The SG-1 antenna at Svalbard and the rub hall that for the first two Arctic winters housed the the equipment.
In 1995 a team from NASA came to Svalbard Norway in quest of an ideal location to establish a ground station for polar orbiting satellites. NASA had just embarked on the prestigious project, ‘’Mission to Planet Earth’’. A series of satellites, later called the NASA A-team, was about to be launched, and they needed a ground segment especially designed to efficiently receive data from polar orbiting satellites. At the same time, the predecessor of Kongsberg Satellite Service, (KSAT) was about to establish a new ground station at the very same Archipelago.
Located at almost 80´ N, Svalbard is the only location that can communicate with such satellites on every orbit.
NASA and KSAT agreed that satellite ground stations are as important as the satellites themselves, because data has to be collected and distributed to be of value to the user community and thus a partnership was born. Even before the station building was in place, the antenna installation was ready to support the NASA satellites.
The first antenna, in the solitude of its own confinement. It is now accompanied by approximately 40 other antenna-systems.
For the first two Arctic winters the equipment was located in a rub hall. The state of the art equipment was placed in a transportable trailer that had double air condition systems, but the first snow storm in the fall showed it wasn’t snow proof. Consequently it had to placed in a rub hall.
Technology advanced, the fiber-optical cable between Svalbard and Norway built in 2003 ensured reliable and efficient data transfer between Svalbard and NOAA Satellite Operations Facility, NSOF.
Landing of the subsea fiber optic cable between the mainland Norway and Svalbard in 2003.
This week the most advanced weather satellite ever built will launch from California. The Joint Polar Satellite System, JPPS-1 satellite will augment the Suomi NPP satellite and deliver data of unprecedented quality. The satellites will circle the Earth 14 times a day, 15 minutes apart. The data will be collected at the KSAT Svalbard Ground Station but in addition now also at the KSAT Troll Station in Antarctica. This enables data to be sent to forecasters at NOAA’s National Weather Service twice during every 90 minute orbit, keeping latency at a minimum.
Data will be collected at high speeds using s, x and Ka-frequencies, KSAT having built the world’s first operational ground network supporting satellites such as JPSS-1, operating in Ka-band. KSAT is also under contract with Raytheon Inc who is NASA-NOAA ground segment prime contractor. The long lasting relationship between Raytheon and KSAT is important for missions success.
It is time to celebrate when JPSS-1 reaches orbits and starts collecting data. The partnership between NASA and KSAT with the support of the Norwegian Space Centre, has proved to be the A-team for supporting these weather satellites and we welcome this new and very advanced addition to the "family".
The KSAT Svalbard Ground Station today with approximately 40 antenna system and the rub hall is replaced by a three story building with modern facilities and a state-of-the-art control room.