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Satellite imagery aids sea route commerce

Russia: Satellite-based radar images have been used during the ice channelling of the super large tanker ‘SCF Baltica,’ making the first in the historic experimental trip on the Northern Sea Route (NSR). It has great importance for activation of commercial cargo trafficking between Russia, Europe and China through the NSR and economic activities in the Arctic. Time saving when following the NSR route is accessed as 45 per cent as compared to the classic route through the Suez Canal.

The work experience shows that the application of space images allows increasing not only the safety but also the economic efficiency of maritime ice operations.

No large-size tankers of ocean class have ever been escorted through the NSR. At different stages of the NSR route, passing in particular through Vilkitsky, Sannikov and Longa Straits, the tanker was escorted by nuclear-powered ice-breakers Taimyr, Rossiya and 50 let Pobedy (50 years of Victory). Radar images of RADARSAT-1 were used to assess ice situation along the ship route and to select the optimal itinerary.

Receiving centres of the ScanEx’s network were used for operational acquisition, processing and transmission of the satellite imagery data: automated ground receiving stations UniScan in Moscow, Megion and Magadan. After processing, the product was transferred in real-time via Internet through “Atomflot-Kosmosnimki” geo-service.

The geo-service was created based on the GeoMixer technology. This followed the request by Atomflot to ScanEx to collect and process satellite radar data in 2010 about the ice situation on the NSR route and the Non-Arctic freezing seas of Russia.

Source: ScanEx