North-Pole Current Affairs

China opens first fully-owned satellite ground station near North Pole

China has launched its first fully-owned overseas satellite ground station near the North Pole enabling it to collect satellite data anywhere on the Earth at fastest speed in the world.

It is formally known as China Remote Sensing Satellite North Pole Ground Station. It is located about 200 kms north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden.

Key Facts
  • The Artic ground station is built and run by Chinese Academy of Sciences. It will allow China to collect satellite data anywhere on Earth at speeds that were more than twice as fast as before.
  • It will use best and most sensitive signal receiving devices ever built by China. It includes one with higher bandwidth, covering frequencies from 26.5 to 40 GHz. It has download speed of 6 Gigabits (billions of bits) per second, fastest in the world.
  • It will also play an important role in China’s Gaofen project, a network of observation satellites orbiting Earth to provide global surveillance capabilities which is due to be completed in 2020.
Advantages of this facility
  • This facility in Sweden can download data from satellites orbiting Earth in less than 3.5 hours, compared to domestic ground stations located in other part of world which require 7 hours.
  • The shorter time is because satellites orbiting North Pole are able to pass about 12 times each day around Earth while those satellites flying over China can orbit Earth only about 5 times each day.
Why this facility is important for China?

Previously, China had built ground satellite facilities in numerous foreign countries, mostly in Africa and South America, which all were joint ventures. But the fully owned overseas ground station in Sweden (in North Pole) will give China much greater freedom and security to operate its space projects, some of have military purposes.

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Denmark lays claim over North Pole

Denmark has presented claim to United Nations over the area surrounding the North Pole. As per Denmark, this area is connected to the continental shelf of Greenland is their autonomous territory.

Greenland geographically forms part of North America rather than Europe. But it is largely self-governed, but it remains part of former colonial master Denmark, which controls foreign affairs and defence policy.

Background

There is territorial dispute between Denmark, Canada and Russia over the energy rich Arctic territory. Canada and Russia have already asserted their own sovereignty over this region. In 2008, Denmark, along with Russia, Norway, Canada and the US said that the territorial dispute should be settled under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In this regard UN panel was formed to settle the dispute.

After ratifying the convention, each country had 10 years to submit a claim to extend its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from its borders. Earlier in 2013, Canada expressed formal interest to the panel.

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