Norwegian Minister and Swedish Astronaut Open International Observatory on Svalbard

18.02.2008
– The new observatory will be an important contributor to the future international research cooperation, says the Norwegian Minister for Research, Tora Aasland. Joined by the Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang she opens the Kjell Henriksen Observatory (KHO) on Svalbard 18 February 2008.
World’s Northermost Northern Lights Observatory
The new northern light observatory is situated on the mountain Breinosa (also known as the Mine 7 Mountain), 12 km from Longyearbyen, Svalbard. – We have waited a long time for this day and we are immensely proud to open the world’s northernmost and most modern northern lights observatory, says director of the University Centre in Svalbard Gunnar Sand.

Prime Location for Climate Research
Research in the polar areas provides important knowledge on environmental and climate change. Svalbard’s location, below the magnetic polar cusp – a small area of just a few latitudes – makes it especially suited for northern lights studies, Aasland accentuates in her opening speech (www.svalbardposten.no). The new northern light observatory can, for instance, facilitate data collection that will improve our understanding of the sun wind’s influence on the earth’s magnetic spots, and the effects this might have on the climate, Aasland says.

International Research Centre
The observatory will be the core of an international and progressive research group. In the old observatory researchers from all over the world collaborated; Finland and Denmark, Japan, USA and Canada, among others, were represented. In the new observatory there are 16 scientific organisations from 7 nations represented with instruments. The KHO staff also has close cooperation with the mainland universities in Norway. – Valuable synergy effects can be expected when several different measuring instruments, provided by different financiers, are installed and made accessible at the same location, Aasland says.


(www.svalbardposten.no/ www.unis.no)

(Photo: Olli Jokiaho)
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