China has launched an exciting development in the field of weather prediction – the Gaofen 1 satellite. The satellite is classed as an Earth Observation device and has been launched by SASTIND – China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence. It is the very first satellite capable of broadcast high resolution pictures back to earth,
The device was actually developed by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology and the launch took place last Friday from the province of Gansu in the North of the country. It was carried into orbit by a Long March rocket and there are great hopes for the satellite. It is hoped that it will provide numerous services for agriculture, disaster prevention and provide general environmental services to the scientific community. Particularly apt after the recent inclusion of China in the last Earth Hour.
China has suffered from many natural disasters in the last few years and it is hoped that Gaofen 1 will play an important role in initially predicting these events and also in monitoring events in progress. Many natural disaster cover huge areas especially things like floods and snowstorms, the satellite should be able to predict the extent of some of these events.
The Gaofen 1 can move very fast aswell so can be repositioned to cover different areas when needed. Gaofen 1 is expected to be only the first in a series of these high resolution satellites that are launched. In fact SASTIND are expected to launch about 5 more in the next three years or so. These wll create a spation coverage and observation system across the country.
It is hoped that these satelites are only used for scientific and weather prediction purposes, although there is obviously a worry that their use is extended given the reputation for the regimes monitoring and controling it’s population. Ironically many of the films of the launch were not accessible last week in China – with viewers receiving the message – that this youtube video not available in your country ! Fortunately most Chinese internet users are well used to this sort of filtering and they are usually skilled in using security tools like proxies and VPNs to neatly sidestep these restrictions.