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China to launch 1st natural disaster monitoring satellite
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China will launch the first of eight satellites to monitor environment and natural disasters from the country's north Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center this week, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The satellite "Environment 1", an optical satellite, will be sent into orbit by a Long March 2C carrier.

It will monitor most of the country and send back data daily, making up for the country's earth observation data shortage, said Wu Xiaoqing, vice minister of Environmental Protection, Wednesday's "China Business News" reports.

"Launch of the satellite will largely enhance our environment monitoring ability," said Wu, explaining that the present environment monitoring and researching method was not good enough to cope with the dynamic environment and the occurrence of natural disasters.

The satellite will work as a constellation with seven other satellites yet to be launched. Its observational footprint is 720 km.

It is expected to forecast and monitor natural disasters such as flooding, drought, typhoon, landslide and earthquake, said Wu.

(Xinhua News Agency September 3, 2008)

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