Satel­lite to study light­ning, pol­lu­tants

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­

China launched a new-gen­er­a­tion weather satel­lite on Sunday that can im­prove weather fore­cast­ing as well as help study light­ning and air pol­lu­tants, in­clud­ing PM2.5.

The 5.4-met­ric ton Fengyun 4A, de­vel­oped by the Shang­hai Acad­emy of Space­flight Tech­nol­ogy, was launched at 12:11 am atop a Long March 3B car­rier rocket from the Xichang Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in Sichuan prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and In­dus­try for Na­tional De­fense, which is over­see­ing the satel­lite project.

The coun­try’s lat­est geosyn­chronous me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal satel­lite will grad­u­ally re­place the Fengyun 2 satel­lites, the ad­min­is­tra­tion said in a state­ment.

The Fengyun 4A will work 36,000 km above the Earth for seven years, mon­i­tor­ing the at­mos­phere, clouds and the space en­vi­ron­ment above China and the west­ern Pa­cific and In­dian oceans.

The satel­lite will help with me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal fore­cast­ing, dis­as­ter pre­ven­tion and re­lief, cli­mate change re­sponse and en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing, the state­ment said.

Yu Xin­wen, deputy di­rec­tor of the China Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said: “The Fengyun 4A will help China re­main one of the top de­vel­op­ers of weather satel­lites. It is the first of its kind in the world that is ca­pa­ble of per­form­ing mul­ti­chan­nel ob­ser­va­tion of the at­mos­phere.”

Dong Yao­hai, chief de­signer of the satel­lite at the Shang­hai Acad­emy of Space­flight Tech­nol­ogy, said the satel­lite has four in­stru­ments — an ad­vanced geosyn­chronous ra­di­a­tion im­ager, a geo­sta­tion­ary in­ter­fer­o­met­ric in­frared sounder, a light­ning map­ping im­ager and an in­stru­ment to mon­i­tor the space en­vi­ron­ment.

The light­ning map­ping im­ager is ca­pa­ble of tak­ing 500 pic­tures of light­ning within one sec­ond, and these images will ex­ten­sively fa­cil­i­tate re­search on light­ning’s fre­quency and ef­fects, he said.

The ad­vanced geosyn­chronous ra­di­a­tion im­ager will cal­cu­late the den­sity of PM10 and PM2.5, both of which are toxic par­tic­u­late mat­ter that is harm­ful to health.

“The Fengyun 4A is as ad­vanced as the new­est weather satel­lites de­vel­oped by the United States, Europe and Ja­pan,” the de­signer said. “It is highly sen­si­tive, since it is able to de­tect a tem­per­a­ture change of 0.1 C on the ground.”

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