Did you know that satellite data are downloaded from space at Troll Station in Antarctica?

Since time immemorial we humans have found our way by looking to the heavens; we navigated with the help of the sun and the stars. Today, satellites in space tell us where in the world we are.
The first two Galileo satellitesThe first two Galileo satellites were launched in October 2011. Illustration: ESA

TrollSat is a ground station for downloading of satellite data that provide important information about the climate, the environment, and the weather. These data are used both for research and for environmental monitoring.

“The satellite station TrollSat is a milestone for environmental monitoring by satellite,” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg when he inaugurated TrollSat at the Norwegian research station Troll in Dronning Maud Land on 19 January 2008. TrollSat cooperates with SvalSat in Svalbard, providing a pole-to-pole concept that allows data to be downloaded twice for each orbit. The satellite station was established by Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) and is situated at the research station Troll.

The Norwegian Polar Institute uses satellite data downloaded at TrollSat for its research projects in Antarctica, and for mapping and efficient monitoring of glaciers and sea ice in Antarctica.

Another ground station has been built at Troll as part of a future civilian European satellite navigation system called Galileo. Unlike GPS, Galileo will be under civilian control and constructed for civilian needs. The system will eventually consist of 30 satellites and have ground stations all over the globe. Galileo will enhance search and rescue services and improve both environmental monitoring and monitoring of sea traffic. By enabling greater precision in navigation, the system will make it safer to travel by air, land and sea. A combination of GPS and Galileo will offer better signal coverage for airborne operations on the Norwegian continental shelf and the High North.

The Norwegian Galileo station in Dronning Maud Land will be critically important because there are so few alternative download sites in Antarctica. Norway has contributed 10 million NOK in the initial phase and will invest another 120 million NOK in the development phase. Galileo is Europe’s most important space initiative and industries from all the participating nations contribute. Galileo is expected to be operational in 2013.