Japan’s GCOM-W1 Satellite Added to NASA’s A-Train

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Japan’s recently launched Global Change Observation Mission 1st-Water (GCOM-W1) satellite joined NASA’s so-called A-Train constellation of Earth observation satellites following a June 29 on-orbit maneuver, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced July 2.

Short for Afternoon Constellation, the NASA-run A-Train consists of multiple satellites orbiting the Earth in close proximity at an altitude of about 700 kilometers, crossing the equator at midday all within 10 minutes of one another.

“The merging and sharing of data from multiple A-Train satellites has already led to significant advances in atmospheric science, and the addition of [GCOM-W1’s] Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2, or AMSR2, data set will be an important extension of the A-Train’s scientific capabilities,” Michael Frielich, NASA’s Earth Sciences Division director, said in a statement released by JAXA.

GCOM-W1, also known as Shizuku, was launched May 18 from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center aboard a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-2A rocket.