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Satellite almost ready to relay pictures
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CBERS-2B, the third Sino-Brazilian Earth resources satellite, will soon be fully operational and ready to relay pictures back to ground control, a top scientist said yesterday.

Launched on September 19, the monitoring satellite has passed its in-orbit tests, Tong Qingxi, head of the Institute of Digital China under Peking University, said.

He did not reveal the exact date when the satellite would start its operations.

The satellite can provide 2.3-m-resolution images of objects on Earth, the highest capability of any civil satellite in China, Tong said at the three-day Digital China Development Forum 2007, which ends today.

"Along with the development of Earth-observing technology and its application, the country has developed a certain level of emergency response capability to important incidents at home and abroad," he said.

Resources monitoring satellites, especially high-resolution ones, are used to help monitor natural disasters and large-scale incidents, Tong said.

The two Sino-Brazilian resources monitoring satellites, launched in 1999 and 2003, have already demonstrated their value in recent years.

CBERS-1 provided valuable information in June and July this year when flooding occurred in the Huaihe River Valley, enabling the government to draft flood-fighting measures, a report by the Beijing-based China Space News, said.

The CBERS satellites and another small monitoring satellite, Beijing-1, also monitored the blue-green algae outbreak on Taihu Lake this year, providing data on the degree of pollution over time.

The newspaper quoted a government official as saying that with "the eye in the sky", scientists can get a clearer picture of an incident and plan ahead for future outbreaks.

China and Brazil plan to launch two more monitoring satellites under the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite program, the next in 2009.

(China Daily December 18, 2007)


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