South Korea is set to take the lead in atmospheric monitoring as it prepares to launch the world’s first geostationary environmental monitoring satellite — fixed above a certain point on the surface.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) on Thursday unveiled the satellite, Chollian-2B, which will be sent to space in February 2020 from French Guiana Space Center in South America, Yonhap news reported.
Officials from the research institute said the satellite would be able to “closely check” the movement of fine dust and other air pollutants in the East Asian region in “real time”, hovering 36,000 kilometers (22,370 miles) above the equator.
The multi-purpose satellite will make it possible to “provide more accurate weather forecasts and permit Seoul to work with others to reduce pollution in the region,” KARI said.
The 3.4-ton satellite is fitted with a Geostationary Environmental Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) which will be able to “observe and track fine dust and 20 types of air pollutants” including ozone, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde, said the institute.
It said the GEMS is at least two years ahead of similar sensors being developed in the U.S. and Europe.
The satellite will be able to cover a region roughly 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles) in length and width eight times a day, the space agency said, adding that it would begin sending ocean-related data roughly eight months after its launch and atmospheric information the following year.