Japan: Japan”s space agency will use a high-resolution imaging satellite to monitor shipping near disputed islands, in the agency”s first-ever maritime surveillance mission. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch ALOS-2, an advanced land observation satellite, in 2013. One of the satellite”s first tasks may be to track vessels.
The agency hopes its work will help Japan manage better disputes over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan, and the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan, which are administered by South Korea but claimed by Japan.
JAXA”s midterm programme is to be revised next fiscal year, and the new draft is expected to spell out a maritime assignment.
ALOS-2 is equipped with high-performance radar. The satellite was designed for missions that required radar imagery to map territory and to monitor disaster areas.
The radar has a resolution of 1-3 meters and can identify ships, agency officials said. It can capture images day and night, and see through clouds.
The radar can monitor a 2,320-kilometer-wide surface area, nearly three times the observable range of the advanced land observation satellite Daichi ALOS, which was decommissioned last year. Daichi monitored land use, including deforestation in the Amazon.
JAXA officials said the marine mission would include providing imagery to the Japan Coast Guard.