JAXA - GCOM-C Mission patch.
Dec. 23, 2017
H-IIA rocket carrying GCOM-C Mission launch
Japan launched the second satellite of its Global Change Observation Mission Saturday. The GCOM-C satellite lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Centre atop an H-IIA rocket at the start of a 22-minute window that opened at 10:26:22 local time (01:26 UTC).
Saturday’s launch, also lofting the Super-Low Altitude Test Satellite (SLATS), was Japan’s seventh of the year. It came two and a half months after the rocket’s previous mission delivered the fourth QZSS navigation satellite into orbit.
The Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM) is a project that is being undertaken by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to study long-term changes in Earth’s climate and water cycle. The project’s first satellite – Shizuku, or GCOM-W – was launched in May 2012 with an expected five-year operational lifespan, and remains in service. Shizuku is dedicated to monitoring Earth’s water cycle, while the GCOM-C satellite that is being launched on Saturday will focus on climate change. Once in orbit, the satellite will be renamed Shikisai.
GCOM-C, which is also known as GCOM-C1, is a 2,093-kilogram (4,614 lb) spacecraft that is expected to operate for at least five years. The satellite carries an imaging payload that will allow it to monitor aspects of Earth’s climate. Its images will be used to study distributions of aerosols, water vapor and clouds in the atmosphere, to monitor the color and temperature of the oceans, snow and ice cover on land and to monitor vegetation and land usage.
The Super-Low Altitude Test Satellite, or SLATS, is an approximately-400-kilogram (880 lb) miniature satellite that was deployed into a lower orbit after GCOM-C separates from the carrier rocket. SLATS, which will be renamed Tsubame – meaning Swallow – after deployment, is a technology demonstration mission that will test the use an ion engine to allow the satellite to operate in a very low orbit without re-entering the atmosphere.
For more information about the mission, visit: http://global.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/gcom_c/
Images, Video, Text, Credits: JAXA/NASA Spaceflight.com/William Graham.
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