China has launched a highly sophisticated satellite specifically designed to observe the Earth with high-definition imaging equipment.
The Gaofen-4 satellite was sent into an orbit of 36,000 kilometers (22,370 miles) away from the Earth early on Tuesday via a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center located in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), Gaofen-4 is China’s first HD optical imaging satellite operating in a geosynchronous orbit, which means it can travel around the Earth with an orbital period of one sidereal day, almost 24 hours.
The new satellite is also considered to be the world’s most sophisticated HD geosynchronous orbit remote-sensing satellite, SASTIND said, adding that it can continuously monitor the same area.
The Gaofen-4 will be used for weather forecast and monitoring forests as well as preventing geological disasters and helping out in relief efforts.
According to Gaofen-4 chief designer Li Guo, the new satellite is able to “see” an oil tanker with its huge camera, attaining the best imaging capability amongst the world’s high-orbit remote-sensing satellites.
The newly-launched satellite is equipped with several visible light and infrared cameras, which cover an area of about 7,000 by 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) that includes China and its surrounding regions.
Gaofen-1 was launched in April 2013 and entered an orbit of 600 kilometers (373 miles) away from the Earth. The Gaofen program is expected to put seven HD observation satellites into orbit by 2020.