Kobe center’s satellite to help 25 nations cope with disasters

Kobe center’s satellite to help 25 nations cope with disasters

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Japan, 23 July 2006: The Asian Disaster Reduction Center in Kobe will in autumn be able to access a system capable of providing 3-D images of disaster-stricken areas anywhere in Asia using a satellite made available by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The center hopes the new system will help people in disaster-stricken areas deal with emergency situations more quickly, to prevent damage.

The center also hopes to use the advanced technology to learn lessons from disasters, including how water flows in floods, and how sand and earth move in landslides. The center will use the agency’s Daichi advanced land-observing satellite that was launched in January. Daichi is one of the world’s largest satellites and carries three types of observational equipment, including one that uses a microwave sensor, which enables it to take pictures of locations at night or if they are covered by clouds.

In February, the satellite took images of Leyte Island in the Philippines when a landslide occurred there. The images were then compared with images taken by another satellite. By comparing the two images it was possible to identify which areas had been worst hit by the landslide. When a powerful earthquake struck the main island of Java, Indonesia, in May, Daichi was used to determine which buildings on the island had suffered damage.

Daichi also can identify flood-affected areas, check the extent of lava flows and determine the size of landslides. When the system is introduced, the center will act as a liaison site for its 25 member countries in Asia. The agency will analyze images of disaster-stricken areas taken by Daichi and process the images by coloring them. The center will send the images to its member countries along with information, including the population of the areas.

Without satellite imaging it can take several weeks for developing nations to learn the full extent of damage caused by a disaster. Masaru Arakida, a chief researcher at the center, said it was a revolutionary system, capable of providing images of disaster-stricken areas that can be understood by anyone. He said quick identification and appraisal of disaster areas would greatly assist emergency teams quickly respond to disasters.