China will launch three new meteorologic satellites by 2010, the first of which could be in orbit next month.
The three Fengyun-2 batch 2 (FY-2 02) meteorologic satellites will be launched with Long March carrier rockets 3A, aerospace officials said Tuesday in Beijing.
"The satellites, independently developed and manufactured by China, will be in synchronous orbit with the earth and operational until 2012," a spokesman for China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said.
The corporation has completed its appraisal of the first satellite of the batch with contracts on the research, manufacturing, launch and monitoring of the satellites signed Tuesday between the corporation and the China Meteorologic Administration (CMA) sponsored by the Commission of Science and Technology Industry for National Defence.
The spokesman who declined to be named made it clear that, "the contract, the first of its kind signed in the field of China's civil spaceflight, marked the beginning of the industry heading for professional satellite applications instead of only making experimental ones."
According to Qin Dahe, the CMA's top official, compared with the satellites launched by China before, the biggest improvement of the FY-2 02 is its scan radiometre with five channels instead of three, two more channels than its predecessors. The satellite's resolution and accuracy of observation are greatly enhanced, too.
Two new infrared observation and visible light channels have been added to the second generation satellites, the FY-2 02, that were not included in the experimental models of the FY series.
"This will enable the new satellite to observe the size of water drops atop cloud layers around-the-clock," experts say, adding it is also capable of better monitoring the surface temperature of sea water.
Those functions may help China improve its disaster reduction and monitoring climate changes.
Staying in synchronous orbit with the earth, remote sensing by the satellite can stare at the earth from 36,000 kilometres above the earth.
The satellite can help keep track of small scale of disastrous climate changes like hailstorms that last only a few hours.
The new satellite has better access to data of other types like oceanic, meteorologic and hydrological information and monitor changes of the solar and space particle radiation.
China has, since 1988, launched six weather satellites including four polar orbit ones and two earth synchronous orbit ones with two of them still operating.
Research and manufacturing of Fengyun-3 polar orbit satellite is expected to get underway soon, said Qin.
"China badly needs a stationary satellite like the FY-2 02 with its function of detecting sandstorms, forest and prairie fires," Qin said.
Qin admitted that his weathermen have been plagued by increasing pressure of improving the accuracy of weather and climate forecasts for the lack of meteorologic satellites stably operating over the skies of the Asia-Pacific region.
The Fengyun-2 02 batch meteorologic satellite, will be positioned right over the equator. Its observation scope covers the Asia-Pacific area. It can observe forest and prairie fires, foggy weather and sandstorms.