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Russia, Canada Seek Joint Arctic Space Monitoring Project

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by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Jun 30, 2010
Russia and Canada will start negotiations on the integration of their national space systems to monitor the Arctic, a Russian space official said on Tuesday.

Anatoly Shilov, deputy head of the Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, said the first Russian-Canadian meeting was scheduled for August.

"We are currently discussing which services will be provided by Russian satellites and which by Canadian satellites," he said.

He said the Russian government had made a decision to create a multipurpose space system called Arktika (Arctic), worth around 70 billion rubles ($2.5 billion).

The satellite system will monitor climatic changes and survey energy resources in the Arctic region. It will monitor the weather and environment of the North Pole, pinpoint hydrocarbon deposits on the Arctic shelf, provide telecommunications over the hard-to-access areas and ensure safe air traffic and commercial shipping in the region.

Shilov said the first Russian and Canadian satellites could be orbited in three years.

"However, ground facilities will also be necessary. So the system should be up and running in no less than six to seven years," he said.

The vast hydrocarbon deposits that will become more accessible as rising global temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice have brought the Arctic to the center of geopolitical wrangling between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark.

Under international law, each of the five Arctic Circle countries has a 322-kilometer (200-mile) exclusive economic zone in the Arctic Ocean.

However, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, if a country can show its continental shelf extends beyond the 200-mile limit, it can claim a right to more of the ocean floor.

Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov Ridge in the summer of 2007 - to substantiate its territorial claims in the region.

Russia first claimed the territory in 2001, but the UN demanded more conclusive evidence.

Russia has said it will invest some 1.5 billion rubles ($50 million) in defining the extent of its continental shelf in the Arctic in 2010.

Source: RIA Novosti

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