Wed, Jul 21, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Satellite prepares for business

OPTIMUM MODE Officials are delighted at the performance of the nation's second satellite, and say it will soon begin providing services for academic and other clients

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

ROCSAT-2, the nation's second satellite, has displayed a high standard of performance in trials since its launch on May 21 and will begin operations for academic clients on Aug. 1, National Science Council Deputy Chairman Shieh Ching-jyh (謝清志) told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Shieh, who is attending the council's annual meeting in conjunction with the US National Science Foundation in Washington, said in a telephone interview that the satellite's systems were now at an optimum performance mode.

"The ROCSAT-2's ability to produce black-and-white images of objects as small as 2m across [on Earth] has been demonstrated during the trials," Shieh said.

Meanwhile, the National Space Program Office (NSPO) is fine-tuning the satellite's color-picture function.

Shieh said local universities and research institutes will be able to request that images be taken by ROCSAT-2 for a diverse range of research topics, including disaster prevention, geological surveys, geographical research and environmental studies.

obstructions

On Monday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was presented with a high-resolution photo of his home village in Tainan County's Kuantien township. Chen told the NSPO representatives that obstructions from within the international community had never discouraged local scientists.

"Because of the performance of ROCSAT-2, Taiwan has not only demonstrated its capabilities in space sciences but has also become one of the world's satellite image exporters," Chen said.

He said ROCSAT-2 will advance research in remote sensing, scientific payload systems and national defense.

Earlier this month, Samuel Ting (丁肇中), an Academia Sinica researcher and Nobel laureate in physics, said the nation's ambitious satellite program had lifted its scientific performance to world levels.

Ting stressed that no scientifically developed country could resist engaging in the development of space technology.

NSPO officials yesterday said that the satellite's operations were highly satisfying so far.

They said the satellite's pictures of the disaster zone left behind by Tropical Storm Mindulle earlier this month had been sent to appropriate agencies for evaluation.

They also said that during the trials, the satellite had produced product samples for possible clients overseas.

ROCSAT-2 was designed for non-military purposes, including marine pollution control and surveillance of smugglers. Officials say that over its seven years of operation the satellite may earn as much as NT$1.5 billion (US$45.5 million).

Top commercial satellite-image suppliers, including QuickBird, Space Imaging's IKONOS and SPOT, have also expressed interest in purchasing images.

additional reporting by CNA

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