Beijing, China, 28 July 2006: The launch of an earthquake-monitoring satellite is a key next step to help predict tremors using space technology, a senior Chinese space official said yesterday. “We expect to develop a satellite specially to monitor electromagnetic changes on the Earth’s surface by the end of 2010 after technological breakthroughs were made regarding its payload,” Luo Ge, Deputy Chief of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), told China Daily in Beijing.
By closely monitoring electromagnetic disturbances in the ground and in the ionosphere the layer of the atmosphere at an altitude of more than 80 kilometres, which many scientists believe may herald earthquakes, the experimental satellite is expected to detect precursor signals and make more reliable forecasts, Luo said. Compared with ground monitoring facilities, satellite sensors cover far larger swathes, and could gather more data faster, he added. He also suggested that global earthquake monitoring satellites form a network to attain better prediction results.
If launched as planned during the next Five-Year Plan period (2011-15), China will join a select club of nations, which remotely monitor magnetic changes to warn of earthquakes. In 2003, the United States first launched Quakesat 1, an Earth observation nanosatellite for collecting earthquake precursor signals from space.
“China looks forwards to international co-operation in developing its satellite,” Luo said. “We are open to various kinds of collaboration, including supply of equipment, funding and data sharing.”