Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory Satellite Launched

Japan’s space agency has successfully launched an H2A rocket carrying a satellite that can survey precisely rainfall on most of the earth.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the rocket lifted off at 3:37 AM from Tanegashima Space Center, southern Japan.

It flew as planned and released the satellite 16 minutes after launch at the height of 400 kilometers.

The satellite, co-developed by Japan and the US, is aimed at a detailed monitoring of rainfall on the earth using radars.

Japan Launches 2 Satellites into Orbit to Gather Intelligence

Japan launched two intelligence satellites into orbit on Sunday amid growing concerns that North Korea is planning to test more rockets of its own and possibly conduct a nuclear test.

Officials say the launch Sunday of the domestically produced HII-A rocket went smoothly and the satellites — an operational radar satellite and an experimental optical probe — appear to have reached orbit.

Japan began its intelligence satellite program after North Korea fired a long-range missile over Japan’s main island in 1998. North Korea conducted a launch last month that it says carried a satellite into orbit but has been condemned by the U.S. and others as a cover for its development of missile technology.

The latest Japanese launch was in the planning stages long before the current increase in tensions with North Korea, but underscores Japan’s longstanding wariness of its isolated neighbor’s abilities and intentions.

The radar satellite, which can provide intelligence through cloud cover and at night, is intended to augment a network of several probes that Japan already has in orbit. The optical probe will be used to test future technology and improvements that would allow Japan to strengthen its surveillance capabilities.

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Japan’s First Commercial Satellite Launch Made Today by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. 7011 and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency made their first commercial satellite launch today in a challenge to European and Russian services.

A Korea Aerospace Research Institute satellite was onboard an H-2A rocket that blasted off at 1:39 a.m. from the Tanegashima Space Center, which is on a Pacific Ocean island off the southern coast of mainland Japan, according to a statement from JAXA on its website. The rocket also carried a Japanese satellite.

Japan has begun to compete with Evry, France-based Arianespace, the world’s largest commercial satellite launcher, and Russia’s Proton to find new revenue for its space program. The nation launches as many as three H-2A rockets a year under a program run by Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Heavy since 2007.

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Japanese satellite Hinode uncovers two massive coronal holes in sun’s magnetic field

A Japanese satellite has captured images showing two huge holes in the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the solar corona, which are blasting solar material into space.

Known as “coronal holes”  these openings in the Sun’s magnetic field allow gas to escape into space through the star’s super-hot outer atmosphere where they become the "solar wind".

Solar winds stream from the holes hitting the earth at an average speed of 400 kilometres per second contributing to auroral displays and in more extreme cases creating solar storms.

But don’t worry, experts say the holes don’t pose a threat to the Earth.

Associate Professor Mike Wheatland from the University of Sydney said effects we see back on Earth are caused more by other solar activity.

"While these are quite beautiful pictures we are unlikely to see any effects from the holes back on Earth," Dr Wheatland said.

Read the rest of the story: Japanese satellite Hinode discovers two huge holes in sun’s magnetic field.

Japan developing cheap satellites for emerging markets

Japan is developing a low-cost surveillance satellite to aid disaster relief and other purposes as it looks to expand its reach into emerging markets, government and corporate officials said Friday.

Japan’s trade ministry is collaborating with NEC Corp. and other companies to develop by 2012 a small satellite costing a fifth of current prices for conventional monitoring satellites, trade ministry official Shuichi Kato said.

NEC will contribute technology it developed for the Hayabusa asteroid probe programme, whose success in being the first to collect asteroid particles during a seven-year odyssey has captured the imagination of Japan’s public.

Kato said the satellite would be ready for launch in 2012 and sales would be aimed at emerging countries such as Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand as well as Dubai and Kazakhstan.

The government is also talking to Vietnam about providing the satellite as part of official development aid, he said.

The ministry estimates that the satellite system would cost about 10 billion yen (120 million dollars), about one fifth of existing satellite systems developed by European and American groups, he said.

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Japan to build third satellite

Japan will build a backup satellite to take over if a malfunction occurs in a pair of radar satellites now under construction, officials said.

The backup satellite will probably be launched in 2014, and would give Japan three fully operable orbiting radar satellites, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Japan’s two intelligence-gathering satellites have broken down, and their replacements won’t be orbited until 2011 and 2012, the report said.

Japan will save money by building the backup satellite using parts and technology from the two satellites now under construction, officials at the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center said.

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Michibiki Navigation satellite reaches position above Japan

Japan’s first navigation satellite has arrived on station more than 20,000 miles over Asia to improve positioning coverage in mountainous terrain and urban centers.

The Michibiki satellite entered its quasi-zenith orbit early Monday, Japanese time, the country’s space agency announced. The orbit stretches from a low point of 20,268 miles to a high point of 24,202 miles.

The quasi-zenith orbit, designed to maximize Michibiki’s coverage of Japan, has an average altitude equal to the distance of geosynchronous satellites from Earth. Its longitude is locked in at 135 degrees east longitude.

Michibiki means "guiding" or "showing the way"e;

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Japan successfully launches satellite to improve GPS

Japan successfully launched a satellite Saturday to improve car navigation and other services using the global positioning system.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the quasi-zenith satellite Michibiki at 8:17 p.m. from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, using an H2A rocket. The 4-ton Michibiki — 3 meters long, 3 meters wide and 6 meters high — was separated from the rocket 28 minutes after the launch.

The launch of the satellite is intended to boost the accuracy and coverage of GPS services in Japan by complementing a U.S. satellite network.

Japan’s GPS services currently depend on U.S. satellites. But their orbits are not just above Japan and radio waves from those satellites can be hampered by skyscrapers or mountains.

The agency aims to eliminate such blind spots and reduce the margin of error to within 1 meter by putting the Michibiki on an orbit almost just above Japan.

Read more of the story: Japan launches satellite for better GPS services.