For those who have missed it, the NATO allies Canada and Denmark are in a border spat over a tiny, remote island off Greenland north of the Arctic Circle.

The RCN has been conducting “Arctic sovereignty patrols” in the nippy region. In July, the RCN planted a flag on Hans Island, and the Canadian defense minister Bill Graham later made an unannounced visit, prompting protests from Copenhagen, which dispatched its own naval ships to region. Before things got ugly, the two countries decided to settle the dispute at the United Nations.

Now Canada is set to use a privatly-owned satellite to monitor the Arctic north, according to ministerial briefing notes obtained by the Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, Candada’s Freedom of Information legislation:

Canada will be spending C$400m on images from the Radarsat 2 satellite, which will be launched next summer:

Passing over the North Pole 14 times daily, recording images of ships, aircraft — even pollution — at a rate of 3,000 square kilometres per second, it will be the linchpin in the Canadian military’s Project Polar Epsilon.

The documents insist that “Polar Epsilon has no connection to the U.S. ballistic missile defence program.”

Update: Here’s a post putting all this into context from the Canadian position.