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Korean-made geostationary environment-monitoring satellite launched

Science 07:41 February 19, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- The world's first geostationary environment-monitoring satellite built by South Korea has been launched, the country's state-run aerospace research institute said Wednesday.

The Ariane-5 rocket carrying the 3.4-ton Chollian-2B that will monitor the movement of fine dust and other air pollutants in the East Asian region lifted off from French Guiana at 07:18 p.m. (local time), according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

The satellite will reach its orbit some 36,000 kilometers above the Earth's equator and make contact with a ground station.

The Chollian-2B is expected to begin carrying out certain missions in October, with all systems to be fully operational in 2021.

The multipurpose satellite is equipped with the Geostationary Environmental Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) that can observe and track fine dust and 20 types of air pollutants, including ozone, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde, KARI said.

The GEMS is 2-3 years ahead of similar sensors being developed for space use by the United States and Europe, and will be able to cover a region roughly 5,000 kilometers in length and width eight times a day, it said.

The satellite will allow South Korea to keep close tabs on all sorts of pollutants in the region and play an important role in global air monitoring. The information gathered will make it possible to provide more accurate weather forecasts and permit Seoul to work with others to reduce pollution in the region.

The satellite is equipped with the cutting-edge Geostationary Ocean Color Imager-2 (GOCI-2), which can check for algal blooms and other water contaminants. GOCI-2 is able to cover an area around 2,500 kilometers in diameter 10 times a day. The optical resolution used on the Chollian-2B is four times sharper than previous sensors used by South Korea, making it that much easier to detect red and green tides, and improving the possibility of giving advance warnings to regions that may be affected.

The space agency said the latest launch follows the successful deployment of the Chollian-2A satellite in late 2018 and gives South Korea the world-class capability to monitor the atmosphere and oceans.

South Korea has spent 386.7 billion won (US$324 million) for the Chollian-2B project, which began in 2011. The life cycle of the satellite is 10 years, the same as the Chollian-2A, it added.

This undated file photo provided by KARI shows the Chollian-2B with its solar panels in the folded position ahead of being shipped to the Guiana Space Center of Kourou, French Guiana. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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