The Svalbard Satellite Station (SvalSat), world’s largest and northernmost satellite ground station, located on Svalbard (Spitzbergen).
The Svalbard Satellite Station (SvalSat) is world’s largest and northernmost satellite ground station, located on Platåberget near Longyearbyen in Svalbard (Spitzbergen or Spitsbergen), a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole.
The site was opened in 1997 and is operated by Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), a joint venture between Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC), a state-owned enterprise of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.
SvalSat and KSAT’s Troll Satellite Station (TrøllSat) in Antarctica are the only ground stations that can see a low altitude polar-orbiting satellite above 500km (310miles) (e.g., in sun-synchronous orbit, SSO) on every revolution as the earth rotates. The facility consists of over the 100 multi-mission and customer-dedicated antennas which operate in C-, L-, S-, X- and K-bands. The station provides ground services to more satellites than any other facility in the world.
SvalSat is also part of NASA’s Near-Earth Network. This includes support for the Earth Observing System, which includes satellites such as Aqua, Aura, Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, and QuikSCAT, as well as the Small Explorer program which includes Galaxy Evolution Explorer, the Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite, Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission, Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, and Transition Region and Coronal Explorer.
Satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) using SvalSat includes the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Other American satellites include the United States Geological Survey’s Landsat-5 and Landsat-7 and the private Iridium Communications’ satellites.
ESA operates various antennas, which are able to transmit in the S-band and receive in the S and X-band. ESA uses the facility for tracking, telemetry, telecommand, radiometric measurements and system validation. Satellites include European Remote-Sensing Satellite 2, Sentinel 1, 2, 3 and 5P and Envisat (Environmental Satellite for Earth Observation). The European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites uses SvalSat as a ground station for its MetOp satellites, which allows communication with all MetOp orbits. SvalSat serves as one of five uplink stations and as a sensor station for Galileo using five antennas, including 1x 10m and 4x 4m.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration uses SvalSat to track ships’ Automatic Identification System (AIS) in Norwegian waters via AISSat-1. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) uses SvalSat for its Hinode mission, a three-year mission to explore the magnetic fields of the Sun.
Other customers include MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) from Canada with their Earth Observation satellites Radarsat-1 and Radarsat-2, the Taiwanese National Space Organization’s Formosat-2, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute of South Korea’s Arirang-2, ISRO’s Cartosat-1 and Cartosat-2 experimental satellites, the German RapidEye constellation owned by Planet Labs, the Italian Space Agency’s Earth Observation satellite, COSMO-SkyMed for the Mediterranean basin Observation, and the German Aerospace Center’s TerraSAR-X, an imaging radar Earth Observation satellite, a joint venture between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and EADS Astrium (Airbus Defense & Space) and HawkEye 360 for their global transportation monitoring and communication LEO satellite constellation.