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New oceanic satellite to be put into orbit by China

China, 9 September 2006: Chinese scientists plan to put into orbit an upgraded oceanic satellite by the end of this year to monitor the marine environment and disasters. Bai Zhaoguang, Chief Scientist on the Haiyang 1-B project, said the main function of the oceanic satellite would be to observe sea surface height, waves, currents and temperatures.

But the Haiyang 1-B (Ocean 1-B) satellite is still being tested, said Sun Laiyan, Director of the China National Space Administration. Sun told a national conference on oceanic science and technology recently the new satellite did not have the technical flaws of its earlier version, the Haiyang 1-A, and the data quality to be collected would be improved.

The satellite’s operational life was expected to reach three years, one year more than that of the Haiyang 1-A, Bai said.The Haiyang 1-A, China’s first experimental satellite to use ocean colour detection, was successfully launched in May 2002 and had a designed lifespan of two years.

Like its precursor, the Haiyang 1-B is also an ocean colour monitoring satellite. But it will provide more precise data about the colour and temperature of the ocean’s surface, and will also monitor pollution and aid in mitigating disasters, according to sources with the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

The “colour” of the ocean is determined by the interaction of light with the water. The satellite can measure a wide array of shades to determine levels of phytoplankton, sediments and dissolved organic chemicals, which most affect the colour.

The oceanic satellites would be China’s most important along with a series of weather and resource satellites, said SOA Director Sun Zhihui. China is expected to launch a network of oceanic satellites to form its own observation system by 2010 to monitor the ocean’s environment.