Both commercial and government ground station facilities are in operation just off Airport Road, something the Geographic Information Systems Day, celebrated November 15, looked to celebrate.

Jiri Raska, station manager of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility, teaches students about the facility during an event for Geographic Information Systems Day.
Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Jiri Raska, the station manager for the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility, toured high school students around the government facility last week.

“I think it’s pretty fascinating,” he said. “We often don’t think about what’s going on and how many pieces to this type of activity, how many people are actually involved in it and just how critical it is to managing our resources.”

Canada’s ability to track changes in the Earth will become especially important should new passageways open up in the Arctic Ocean to prevent disasters and ensure vessel safety, he continued.

“It’s very hard for such a large nation with such a small population to be able to be up there and safeguard it,” said Raska. “That’s why we’re going to have to rely on this type of technology.”

One new piece of technology at the ISSF is a C-CORE radome operating as a proof of concept for self-levelling technology.

Most antennae have to be drilled into the permafrost on pilings so they stay completely stable. That process is expensive and time-consuming. But the new radome on site at the ISSF, though it is smaller than the other antennae, is testing out self-levelling technology that would greatly reduce the cost of installation, plus come with the ability to move the antenna in the future.

“The other idea too is with the radome, because they’re not in the ground we’re able to shield the dish from winds, so it doesn’t catch and create any more force on the platform,” said Raska, adding that the dome shields the electronics inside as well.

C-CORE is currently using the radome to track a nanosatellite equipped with a hyperspectral sensor for measuring greenhouse gas emissions.

GIS Day events also included an open house at Aurora College. Sometime in the near future, two spaces are likely to open up for students to work on the ISSF and in town on a part-time basis.

Raska said Natural Resources Canada will be connecting with Gwich’in, Inuvialuit and other groups to publicize the opportunity, which will be available to high school graduates and people in higher education.

“It would be great to see a recent grad or somebody’s who’s between education (participate),” said Raska.

He hopes to see the industry grow in town.

“I think that people at large, we tend to take for granted a lot of the behind-the-scenes things that Canada does to our benefit, and our contribution to the rest of the world with respect to Earth observation,” said Raska.

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