Fri, May 23, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Events mark 10th anniversary of satellite’s launch

Staff writer, with CNA

Scientists on Wednesday celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launch of FORMOSAT-2, the first Earth observation satellite developed in Taiwan.

Launched on May 21, 2004, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, FORMOSAT-2 has orbited the planet more than 50,000 times and collected photographs covering an area about 7.5 times the Earth’s total land surface, the National Space Organization (NSPO) said.

Since the first picture was taken on June 4, 2004, the satellite has taken photographs associated with 244 disasters and their aftermaths, providing the pictures to 57 countries for reference, former NSPO director-general Lee Lou-chuang (李羅權) said at a seminar in Taipei.

The tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in 2004, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, Typhoon Morakot in central and southern Taiwan in 2009 and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan were all recorded by the “eye in the sky,” he added.

NSPO Director-General Chang Guey-shin (張桂祥) said the satellite is “a part of our daily life,” as it revisits Taiwan every day and provides global coverage.

The satellite also provides images for scientific research, environmental monitoring and other applications, as well as covering polar areas that most satellites do not, Chang added.

Herve Lambert, a former project manager at FORMOSAT-2, recalled his “very emotional feelings” when he saw the first picture taken by the satellite.

“It was a fantastic experience,” he said, adding that the powerful satellite can benefit the whole world.

The one-day seminar in Taipei brought together about 200 academics and experts from Taiwan and abroad, including scientists from Japan, France and Switzerland.

It was part of a series of events to mark the 10th anniversary of the launch being held by the NSPO, which include a series of nationwide exhibitions that start today, with a three-month display in Taipei and a television program about the satellite, which is scheduled to be aired on TTV on Monday, the organizers said.

The NSPO has also released a book, Under the Sky, which features a collection of images taken by the satellite.

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