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December 31, 2013

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Gaofen-1 satellite goes into service

China’s high-definition Earth observation satellite, Gaofen-1, has been formally put into service, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said yesterday.

The satellite has completed eighth months of in-orbit tests since it blasted off on April 26. It has performed better than expected by sending back high quality photos, according to the administration.

The satellite will help in geographic and resources surveying, environment and climate change monitoring, precision agriculture, disaster relief and city planning.

The land and resources, environmental protection and agriculture ministries will be the main users of the satellite.

Gaofen-1 shows China is self-sufficient in collecting  high-resolution images of the Earth and that a new phase has started in the country’s remote-sensing capability, said Xu Dazhe, head of the administration.

Thus far, the satellite has provided data on the Lushan earthquake in Sichuan, floods in northeastern China and the smog in northern and eastern China during the test period. It also provided Pakistan with images after an earthquake in the country on September 24.

Gaofen-1 was the first of five or six satellites to be launched before 2016. It is also the first low-orbit remote-sensing satellite designed to be in use for longer than five years.

It carries two 2m panchromatic/8m multi-spectral high-definition cameras and four 16m resolution wide-angle cameras. The cameras are advanced enough to take images of a bicycle, Xu said.

The Gaofen-2 satellite is scheduled to be launched early in 2014.



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