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Monday's papers: Finland in space, van speed limits, Atlantic warmth

This week in print news begins with Finland taking a giant leap in aerospace technology, a proposal to allow mobile homes and vans to drive a little faster, and a bout of high temperatures expected to visit the country soon.

Meteosat-10-satelliitin kuva maapallosta.
Blue dot: planet Earth as viewed from the Meteosat-10 satellite. Aalto-2 will orbit us once every hour and a half once launched. Image: Eumetsat / ESA

Finland's highest-circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on the Aalto-2 – the first ever proper Finnish satellite – gearing up for its ascent into the thermosphere.

If all goes well, on Saturday morning (Finnish time) Aalto-2 will be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the same site where the Apollo missions took to the moon, the paper writes. The dozens-strong team of Aalto University science students has worked on the satellite for more than five years, headed by professor Jaan Praks, who has worked on Estonia's space programme as well.

"We're hoping the booster rocket won't explode on ignition, and that the satellite will function in its new environment," an electrical engineering student from the team says in HS.

The satellite and all its components have undergone rigorous tests before being shipped to the USA. Aalto-2 weighs 2 kg and costs the university 20,000 euros to launch, which includes a hefty discount thanks to the satellite's involvement in a broader Belgian space study.

Aalto-2 will orbit the Earth at about 7 km/sec, which is about ten times faster than a bullet from an assault rifle. It takes the satellite an hour and a half to orbit the whole planet. The probe's purpose, writes HS, is to observe and record charged particles in the thermosphere, at a height of some 100-500 km.

Need for speed

In more terrestrial news, Tampere region paper Aamulehti writes of a bill that could change Finland's roads in small but significant ways. Vans, recreational vehicles and towing trucks will see their maximum speeds amended in the name of better traffic flow.

Currently vans and RVs have maximum speed limits of 80 or 100 km/h. These will be done away with when the law change takes effect. In addition, trailers weighing less than 750 kg can soon be towed at 100 km/h, up from 80 km/h.

"The change will affect a vast majority of the country's vans and trailers," says Juha Keulas from a local SF-Caravan association. "Congestion and overtaking situations will decrease once these slightly larger vehicles can be driven at the same speed as the rest of the traffic."

Despite the new moderation, campers and vans will still have to tie and secure their loads carefully, especially when towing trailers, Aamulehti reminds readers.

High temps

Finally tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reveals meteorological estimates that put average daytime temperatures at unusual highs in the coming weeks.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute puts maximum temperatures in the south at a whopping (for March) 14 degrees Celsius. It is a rare spike: the anomaly only occurs three times or less every century.

 IS cites several reasons for the sudden heat. Warm air from the Atlantic Ocean enters the Nordic countries by crossing the Scandinavian Mountains, and heats up fast as it comes down; this phenomenon is known as a föhn wind. A strong high pressure front is also developing as we speak.

Snow cover will be affected by the change in temperature, meteorologist Erik Saarikalle says in the paper. Even northern snow depths of 25 cm may not withstand the sudden hot spell.

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