On 3 May 2023, a steering group appointed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications to examine the possible establishment of a Finnish space situational awareness centre issued a report recommending that the centre be established. It could be started by 2026.
Services relying on satellite systems, such as telecommunications, remote sensing and positioning, are part of our everyday life. The operation of satellite systems is threatened by phenomena in near space, disturbances in space weather and collisions between satellites and space debris. In addition, falling space debris may result in dangerous situations on Earth.
At the moment, no authority in Finland has the responsibility for surveying and tracking disturbances and dangerous situations in space and space activities in a coordinated manner. The Finnish centre for space situational awareness would provide and disseminate this information to the Defence Forces, to other authorities and to companies critical to security of supply as well as to universities and research institutes. The centre would contribute to Finland’s goals in comprehensive security, such as national resilience, maintenance of the critical infrastructure, security of supply and cyber security.
The centre would provide a recognised space picture in cooperation with Finland’s international partner countries and in close cooperation with international organisations responsible for space surveillance.
Centre for situational space awareness would provide opportunities for research and business
National situational space tracking activities would promote Finnish basic research and allow to apply for research funding for space activities from the EU and the European Space Agency. They would also open up opportunities to develop high-quality technology and business operations.
The centre would operate on a decentralised basis. The civilian leadership would operate in connection with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the military leadership in connection with the Defence Forces. They would work independently but in close cooperation with one another. The centre would make use of the current official duties and structures.
In addition to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the steering group had representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. The aim of the group was to form a shared understanding of the establishment of a national space situational awareness centre. Members of the steering group secretariat were from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, whose work was supported by permanent experts appointed to the group from the National Land Survey of Finland and the Defence Forces.
The report, prepared as part of official duties, recommends that the centre for space situational awareness be established by 2026. The need for a new appropriation for the centre in 2024–2027 would total EUR 5,135,000. The decision on the establishment of the centre can be made by the incoming Government.
Centre for space situational awareness, civil leadership:
Professor Ari-Matti Harri, Finnish Meteorological Institute, ari-matti.harri(at)fmi.fi
SOURCE AND CREDITS: Ministry of Transport and Communications