Japan launches successfully ASNARO-2 Earth observation satellite

Japan's solid fuel rocket named Epsilon-3, the third of its type, launches at its Uchinoura Space Center in Kimotsuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on January 18, 2018. Reuters

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully launched a new high-resolution Earth observation satellite on January 18 following similar launches by Asian giants India and China in recent days.

The newly launched Japan's earth observation satellite has been equipped with X-band radar to obtain high-resolution images of the terrains. It has been launched by a third-generation Epsilon rocket from the Uchinoura Space Center, in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima, Japan.

The Advanced Satellite with New System Architecture for Observation (ASNARO-2) has been developed by Japanese tech firm NEC for an observation span of 5 years. The 570-kg ASNARO-2 satellite had been successfully placed in its orbit at an altitude of 500km to deliver all-weather radar imagery at a resolution of 1 meter from the ground.

This was the first private launch mission for a JAXA launcher. The Epsilon rocket was first launched in September 2013 to place Japan's first remote planetary observing space telescope into orbit.

The Japanese aerospace agency has designed Epsilon as a smaller alternative to conventional rockets to reduce the cost of launching small-sized satellites. The recent launch cost of Epsilon is around $3.6 million which is roughly half the amount required by a conventional rocket's launch.

Meanwhile, India is also designing similar smaller launchers for carrying small-sized satellites. China has already developed a series of rockets named "Long March" for its varied sized space mission payloads.

Nanosatellites and microsatellites are gaining popularity for future missions. India's PSLV launcher has recently carried 30 micro and nanosatellite along with its earth observation satellite Cartosat-2f during its launch mission on January 12.

China has recently sent SuperView-1 03/04 remote sensing observation satellite to provide high-resolution images of the Earth surface. The satellite was developed to provide 0.5-meter resolution images for commercial application. Meanwhile, India's Cartosat-2f has 0.6-meter resolution for strategic civil and military applications.

This article was first published on January 19, 2018