Japan: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that the Global Change Observation Mission 1st – Water “SHIZUKU” (GCOM-W1) was inserted into a planned position on the A-Train orbit as a result of orbit control performed on June 29, 2012. The SHIZUKU was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on May 18, 2012.
The SHIZUKU is flying in front of the Aqua satellite, thus it takes the most front position in the A-Train until another National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite, OCO-2 (USA) joins the constellation.
Dr. Michael Freilich, Earth Science Division Director, of the NASA, said, “We are pleased to welcome JAXA and SHIZUKU as a member of the international A-Train constellation. The merging and sharing of data from multiple A-Train satellites has already led to significant advances in atmospheric science, and the addition of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) dataset will be an important extension of the A-Train’s scientific capabilities.”
JAXA will increase the rotation speed of the AMSR2 aboard the SHIZUKU from the lower rotation mode (11 rpm) to the regular observation mode of 40 rpm to verify its observation performance.
Outline of A-Train (The Afternoon Constellation)
The Afternoon Constellation, or the “A-Train”, is an Earth observation satellite constellation run by NASA, and consists of multiple satellites orbiting the Earth in close proximity at an altitude of about 700km. This system allows satellites from various countries to cooperate in earth observations. Currently, with the A-train, the following satellites are participating: Aqua (NASA, U.S.A.), CloudSat (NASA, U.S.A), CALIPSO (NASA, U.S.A./ CNES, France), Aura (NASA, U.S.A.) and Japan has participated in the system for the first time with the SHIZUKU.