Russia launched its space satellite Arktika-M last Sunday, February 28, to oversee the climate and environment in the Arctic. According to a Twitter post by Russia’s Roscosmos space agency head Dmitry Rogozin, Kazakhstan’s Soyuz rocket from the launchpad Baikonur ejected the satellite after successfully reaching its designated orbit. Arktika-M can pass above high northern altitudes to cover the Arctic, as well as take images every 15-30 minutes. Furthermore, the satellite is capable of retransmitting distress signals in remote areas as part of Cospas-Sarsat international satellite-based search and rescue program.

Russia is set to launch another satellite in 2023, and Roscosmos mentioned that the two satellites will offer round-the-clock monitoring of the Arctic Ocean. Over the last three decades, the Arctic has warmed at a rate of more than twice as fast as the global average. Geographer Mia Bennette from the University of Hong Kong said, “As more activity takes place in the Arctic and as it moves into higher latitudes, improving weather and ice forecasting abilities is crucial.”