Japan Launches Newest Earth Observing Satellite

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TOKYO — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Corp. successfully launched the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 and four small secondary payloads May 24 from Tanegashima Space Center aboard an H-2A rocket, JAXA said.

The launch, the 24th for Japan’s workhorse H-2A, deployed the satellite, now called Daichi-2, into a 628-kilometer, near-polar orbit 15:47 minutes after liftoff. Daichi-2 is expected to make a significant contribution to Earth observation, especially disaster monitoring and assessment.

Measuring 10 meters by 16.5 meters by 3.7 meters and weighing 2,200 kilograms, Daichi-2 is the successor to JAXA’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite that operated from 2006 to 2011. The satellite was built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp.

The new satellite carries an L-band synthetic aperture radar capable of collecting imagery at resolutions of 1 to 3 meters, compared with 10 meters for its predecessor. The sensor’s maximum swath width is 2,320 kilometers, compared with 870 kilometers for Daichi-1’s main sensor.

Daichi-2 will be used for applications including mapping, disaster management and environment, resource, pollution, settlement and infrastructure monitoring.

The satellite is expected to be able to deliver imagery within one to two hours of request, compared with three to five hours with the Daichi-1, thanks in part to its greater agility.

Daichi-2’s development cost was $210 million, with a total mission cost of $374 million including launch and five to seven years of operations. The satellite is expected to undergo six months of testing before being declared operational.