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Japan Launched Himawari-8
Oct 11, 2014

Japan launched its third mission of the year on 7 October by launching 3,500 kilogram Himawari-8 weather satellite from Yoshinobu Launch Complex. The eighth satellite in Japan’s Himawari series of geosynchronous weather satellites, Himawari-8 marks the beginning of the constellation’s third generation of spacecraft. The spacecraft will replace Himawari-7, which has been in orbit since 2006.

The satellite was constructed by the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation with assistance from Boeing, and is based around the DS-2000 satellite bus. The DS-2000 bus gives the spacecraft a design life of fifteen years, however its operational lifespan may be limited by its instruments, which are only designed for eight years of service.


Himawari-8 carries three payloads; the Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI), Space Environment Data Acquisition Monitor (SEDA) and the Data Collection Subsystem (DCS). The Advanced Himawari Imager is the spacecraft’s main instrument. A sixteen-channel multispectral imager operating at visible-light and infrared wavelengths, it will produce full-disc and area images. It can produce images at a resolution of up to 500 metres (1,640 feet), with each spectral band being of use for different observations; allowing the satellite to collect data on various factors including cloud cover, temperatures, winds, precipitation and aerosol distribution.


The Space Environmental Data Acquisition Monitor will collect space radiation data; studying protons and electrons incident upon the spacecraft. The Data Collection Subsystem is a communications payload which will be used to collect and relay data from ground weather stations for analysis.


The Himawari series of satellites began with the launch of Japan’s Geostationary Meteorological Satellite (GMS) atop a Delta 2914 rocket in July 1977. Built and launched in the United States, GMS–which was renamed Himawari, meaning Sunflower, after launch— was Japan’s first weather satellite. 


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