Sun, Apr 05, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Space organization marks satellite’s fifth year in orbit

MULTIPLE USESData from the government’s first satellite can be used for climate observation, disaster prevention and environmental protection

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the launch of FORMOSAT-2, the National Space Organization (NSPO) will host a series of educational events on the operations and functions of the satellite, the NSPO said yesterday.

FORMOSAT-2, the first remote sensing satellite developed by the NSPO, was launched into orbit 891km above sea level on May 21, 2004. It is the first satellite to be solely controlled by the government.

To mark its fifth year, the NSPO will host an array of events to exhibit the satellite’s successes such as hosting workshops for target groups to learn about FORMOSAT-2, NSPO director-general Miau Jiun-jih (苗君易) said.

The first event from tomorrow to May 15 will be a ­satellite-photo identification contest, he said.

BICEP

“For example, did you know that from a birds-eye view, the Hualien plain looks like an extended bicep? Every week on the NSPO Web site, we will post two satellite pictures of a place on the island. Those who identify the place correctly can enter a raffle prize draw,” he said.

One of the satellite’s missions is to captures images of the island as well as other locations on the Earth, Miau said, adding that the data could be used in fields such as natural resource research, climate observation, disaster prevention and environmental protection.

“The biggest difference between FORMOSAT-2 and other satellites is that it has the function of recording images of the same terrestrial or oceanic landscape everyday, so it can be used to monitor potential disasters or record landscape evolution,” he said.

EXCLUSIVE PROCESSING

With its exclusive Image Processing System developed by the NSPO, images taken by the satellite can be processed according to the end-user’s needs, he said, adding that the Central Weather Bureau used the data regularly.

Besides the image-capturing function, the satellite can also provide data for global positioning systems, Miau said.

In March last year, the FORMOSAT-2 conducted a high-resolution photo surveillance of the collapsing Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica on the request of NASA which issued calls for countries to focus any available high-resolution satellites on the shelf.

The photos that were taken by ­FORMOSAT-2 were the most detailed observation ever of an ice shelf disintegration. Commenting on the mission, National Cheng Kung University Department of Earth Sciences associate professor Liu Cheng-chie (劉正千) said it was the first time that such a high-resolution satellite had been deployed to monitor the Antarctic.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

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