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Chinese weather satellite begins relaying images

Fengyun-1D, the meteorological satellite launched into orbit early yesterday, has started to send back cloud maps to Earth.

Dong Chaohua, an official from the State Satellite Meteorological Center, said his center has received the satellite’s first map.

“The imaging is clear, showing that the instruments installed on Fengyun-1D, the communication links between the satellite and Earth and the ground-applied systems, are all working properly,” Dong said.

Fengyun-1D, the first generation meteorological satellite developed by China, is one of the two new satellites China successfully launched at 9:50 am (Beijing time) yesterday on a Long March 4 rocket. It lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in North China’s Shanxi Province.

The other satellite is Haiyang-1, the first marine surveying satellite independently developed by China.

Technicians said the Haiyang-1 satellite used visible light and infrared spectral coverage to probe water temperature and was equipped with remote sensors to transfer digital and image messages back to Earth.

Zhang Yongwei, chief designer of Haiyang-1, said new technology was used in five areas of the satellite’s design and development. They include freezing by mechanical means and using an independent axle drive to propel two solar wings.

The technological breakthroughs have enabled Haiyang-1 satellite to reach an internationally advanced level, Zhang said.

Compared with foreign satellites, Haiyang-1’s fairly complete spectral coverage and co-existence of visible light and infrared remote sensing enables it to obtain more precise data about the colour of the ocean and the temperature of the surface.

Experts said the successful launch of the two satellites will help China speed up its meteorological research and promote national economic development.

Statistics show that the error of launch precision with the carrier rocket is less than 1,000 meters, far below the error benchmark allowed.

China had so far successfully launched 12 kinds of Long March rockets and had just finished research on two new rockets awaiting test launches, said Zhang Qingwei, general manager of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Company Group.