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Advanced Weather Satellite Blasts Off

China launched its first geostationary orbit meteorological satellite, the Fengyun-2C, Tuesday morning, mounted atop a Long March carrier rocket.

The launch took place at 9:20 AM at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The 1.4-ton satellite, designed and manufactured in China, entered its orbit 24 minutes after takeoff. In the next few days, it will be positioned over the equator, with an observation range covering one-third of the earth's surface, according to scientists.

In 1997 and 2000, China placed two experimental models of the FY2 series in orbit. New infrared observation and visible light channels have been added to the scan radiometer of the C model, bringing it in line with international standards for new-generation weather satellites.

The new channels will enable the FY-2C to observe the size of water drops atop cloud layers 24 hours a day, and will improve monitoring of the surface temperature of the oceans.

With greatly enhanced resolution and observation accuracy, the new satellite has better access to oceanic meteorological data and hydrological information, and can monitor changes in solar and space particle radiation.

The FY-2C, China's first geostationary orbit satellite, will help keep track of potentially dangerous weather events such as hailstorms, fog and sandstorms. It can also observe and track forest and prairie fires.

China has launched seven weather satellites since 1988, including four FY-1 polar orbit vehicles and three FY-2 stationary earth synchronous orbit satellites.

In the next few years, China plans to send up several more FY-2 satellites to allow continuous coverage of weather situations.

(China Daily October 20, 2004)

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