Canadian Geographic
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The North from Space


The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) uses satellites to monitor several aspects of the land, ice and atmosphere of the Arctic. Their applications range from predicting weather on Earth to tracking the concentration of molecules in the atmosphere that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. Much of the CSA’s work is done in collaboration with other agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency.

Today, 90 percent of the CSA’s activities affect Canada’s Northern Strategy, which seeks to strengthen Arctic sovereignty, promote social and economic development in the North, protect environmental heritage and improve northern governance.

An important aspect of the satellite missions is their longevity. The longer a satellite remains in operation, collecting data on atmospheric chemistry, ice cover in the Arctic, wildlife migration and other fields, the more consistent the information with which to analyze the trends. Current monitoring programs help scientists determine whether variations in ice cover, for example, are natural or due to anthropogenic effects. The data also help predict how the Arctic will change in the future.


This piece discusses five satellites in operation over the Canadian Arctic. Each section outlines the launch date, payload and instrumentation of a specific satellite, and uses images to illustrate.


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Quiz :

In which year was the first map of Arcitc sea-ice thickness unveiled?