China launches new meteorological satellite to provide more accurate forecasts amid climate change
Published: Aug 03, 2023 08:15 PM
Photo: China Space News

Photo: China Space News

As humanity faces the immense challenges of climate change with increasing occurrences of extreme weather events, China on Thursday successfully launched a meteorological satellite, the Fengyun-3 06, which is expected to provide more accurate forecasts for extreme weather conditions including rain storms and typhoons.

The Fengyun-3 06 satellite lifted off on a Long March-4C carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China at 11:47 am on Thursday, and will replace the Fengyun-3C satellite, which has been in operation for nearly a decade and should have retired years ago. 

Building upon the global imaging and atmospheric vertical detection capabilities of the Fengyun-3 series, the new satellite focuses on Earth surface imaging observation. 

It is capable of obtaining global ozone distribution, monitoring global ice and snow coverage, sea surface temperature, natural disasters, and the ecological environment, the Global Times learned from the China National Space Administration.

Over the past 100 years, the average temperature of the Earth has increased by about 1 C, which, when averaged out to each year and each day, is an extremely subtle change. This requires that the meteorological satellite detection accuracy be high, and the detection error should not exceed the temperature deviation of the Earth. 

As a "rising star," the new Fengyun-3 06 has significantly improved in various indicators compared to its predecessor, with more accurate detection, stronger capabilities, and longer lifespan, satisfying the upgrade needs of China's polar-orbiting meteorological satellite system.

Specifically, the Fengyun-3 06 has a stronger detection capability and higher precision than the Fengyun C series with over 6,000 channels from UV to microwave detection, a lighter weight of 2.7 tons, as well as a longer lifespan of eight years compared with the five-year lifespan of the C series.

The satellite is also equipped with 10 remote sensing instruments that utilize advanced quantitative remote sensing technology, the Global Times has learned. Among them, two are newly developed ultraviolet high-spectral ozone detectors, which will fill the gap in China's Fengyun satellite's ultraviolet high-spectral atmospheric detection.

Furthermore, the new satellite will provide remote sensing information required for short-term climate forecasting and climate change estimation, enhancing the ability to respond to emergencies and improving comprehensive meteorological disaster prevention and reduction capabilities. 

With the successful launch of Fengyun-3 06, it will now undergo in-orbit testing, while Fengyun-3C continues its in-orbit operations. Once officially commissioned, it will take over the morning orbit meteorological operations from Fengyun-3C. 

With the network integration of the Fengyun-3D, -3E, and -3G satellites, the comprehensive observation capabilities of the Fengyun low-orbit meteorological satellite constellation will be fully utilized, effectively improving the accuracy and timeliness of global numerical weather forecasting.

Currently, there are nine Fengyun meteorological satellites in operation in China. The high-orbit meteorological satellites in the Fengyun family act as "sentinels," monitoring real-time climate changes in the Chinese region. The low-orbit satellites patrol the globe, providing more detailed information on the Earth's temperature. 

China has initiated the research and development of a third-generation Fengyun low-orbit meteorological satellite, the Fengyun-5, and is conducting research on new satellite technology. 

The integration of a Fengyun-5 satellite with the high-orbit satellites will form a complete meteorological satellite system, realizing systematic comprehensive observation. This will meet the demand for timely global data acquisition, real-time generation of meteorological emergency products and broadcasting, China Space News reported.