China: After the last week’s launch of its Gaofen-4 satellite, China has released the first batch of images captured by the nation's most sophisticated observation satellite. The achievement has opened up and broadened the country's efforts in earth observation. Chinese agency, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense released 17 images captured by Gaofen-4 on Wednesday, covering an area of at least 400 kilometers.
According to Tong Xudong, chief designer of the project, Gaofen-4 is in good condition and capturing stable images. "All these images have demonstrated different geomorphologic features in certain regions, which show Gaofen-4's potential in surveying ecological environment and bush fire." One image taken on January 21st shows Beijing and neighboring areas amid heavy smog, while another clear image of the same region was taken on Jan. 25, when the smog dispersed.
Other images feature Nam Co in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the world's highest saltwater lake, and the Yellow River delta and a forest fire in South Australia. By using a huge CMOS digital camera, the Gaofen-4 can still find objects as small as an oil tanker on ocean, even though it's orbiting 36-thousand kilometers away from earth. Fan Yida, an official with Ministry of Civil Affairs, says the satellite can make a valuable contribution to disaster mitigation in China.
"Gaofen-4 provides quick, reliable and stable remote sensing data, which will benefit forest surveying, fire prevention, disaster reduction, and earthquake forecasting across China. It also offer advanced technological means in terms of extracting seismic structure information and predicting meteorological changes." Before China launched the Gaofen-1 observation satellite in April 2013, almost all of these kinds of pictures and data had to be bought from foreign companies.