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TRMM Precipitation Radar image of tropical cyclone

The operation of the Precipitation Radar (PR) on board the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was completed on 7 October 2014, as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA announced. TRMM is a joint enterprise between NASA and JAXA and is aimed to measure rainfall for extreme weather monitoring and climate research.

Rainfall observation by PR will be succeeded by the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar on board the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory... read more

Publishing Date: 22/10/2014
UN-SPIDER and its partners aim to make the disaster risk reduction community aware of the potential of satellite technologies

UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER and many partners from the Space, the Earth observations and the Civil Protection communities, and from the regional and international organizations have been working together since June 2014 as a way to spearhead efforts regarding the incorporation of the use of Earth Observations and Space-based applications in the post-2015 framework for disaster reduction (HFA-2), to be launched during the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan next year.

The partners include UN agencies, international and regional organisations, space agencies, academia, ministries and national civil protection agencies. These efforts have been endorsed by government institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany, the People’s Republic... read more

Publishing Date: 14/10/2014
Himawari-8 was launched on 7 October 2014 from Tanegashima Space Centre

On 7 October 2014 the Japan Meteorological Agency announced the successful launch of the geostationary meteorological satellite “Himawari-8” from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima, Japan.

The next-generation satellite represents a highly specialized technology that can be essential in the management of meteorological hazards, such as typhoons and volcanic eruptions. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) envisioned the use of “Himarawi-8” as an essential instrument for disaster risk management and... read more

Publishing Date: 09/10/2014

The upcoming Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015 is expected to bring together more than 6,000 stakeholders from government agencies, international and regional organizations, the private sector, civil society and non-government agencies. Its main outcome is expected to be a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (Hyogo Framework for Action 2 - HFA-2).

Recognizing the relevance of such a global event, UN-SPIDER has been working with more than 15 partners from the Earth Observation community and from UN and other international, regional and national organizations from Asia, Africa, America, the Caribbean and... read more

Publishing Date: 02/10/2014
Image of the countryside of France, captured by Hodoyoshi-4 on 1 August 2014

Two Japanese microsatellites, developed by the University of Tokyo, have begun transmitting Earth Observation images. The images are available via Facebook and YouTube.

Produced at comparatively low costs and within little time, Hodoyoshi-3 and Hodoyoshi-4 are a "proof of concept in innovative satellite development" as the website AsianScientist cites. "By reducing the cost per satellite to less than three million US dollars and development time below two years, researchers... read more

Publishing Date: 07/08/2014
The orbit of the Quasi-Zenith Satellite above Japan

The Japanese national newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported on 22 July 2014 that a full-scale operation of Quasi-Zenith satellites is projected to start in 2018, after that a first one, Michibiki, was launched in September 2010.

The Quasi Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) consists of multiple satellites that fly in an orbit passing through the near zenith over Japan. "Satellites on quasi-zenith orbits have a slower speed in the northern hemisphere by moving away from the earth, and a faster speed in the southern hemisphere by coming closer to the earth," as the QZSS website points out. The quasi-zenith orbit "is a figure-eight shaped orbit with north-south asymmetry. Satellites spend approximately 13 hours in the... read more

Publishing Date: 29/07/2014
Super typhoon Neoguri seen from space.

In early July 2014, Super Typhoon Neoguri has been heavily affecting Japan. Neoguri developed from... read more

Publishing Date: 09/07/2014
Aerial view of Nishinoshima island, part of the Ogasawara Islands.

On 24 May 2014, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched their Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 "Daichi-2" (ALOS-2) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

Daichi-2 has a radar that can recognize objects about three meters in size and can observe land even at night or when it is raining. As a result, the satellite is expected to help disaster responders, as it can fly over Japan twice a day. The capabilities of Daichi-2 were shown through the first data obtained from the satellite, which JAXA recently released.

Combined with... read more

Publishing Date: 03/07/2014
Chernobyl seen from Space in 2009

Japan has launched two Earth Observation satellites last week to monitor environmental damage near the damaged nuclear plants in Fukushima and Chernobyl, officials said.

The two satellites, Hodoyoshi-3 and Hodoyoshi-4, have been developed by the University of Tokyo for around 300 million yen (about $2.9 million) each. They will take images of the two nuclear power plants and the surrounding environment to be combined with ground-based data including radiation levels.

"I hope that the data will help Japan... read more

Publishing Date: 24/06/2014
Destruction caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011

A new study conducted by experts of the Japan Earthquake Science Exploration Agency (JESEA) shows that Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals can effectively be used as a means of earthquake prediction using the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake as a case study.

Although it has been previously claimed in the academic community that prediction of forthcoming seismic events was impossible with existing measuring techniques, this study succeeded in detecting several pre-signals six months, five months, one month and three days before the Great Earthquake through GNSS data.

According to this study, the forecast as well as the pre-slips in the three days prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 could have indeed led to anticipate the next event. According to the... read more

Publishing Date: 30/05/2014
The launch of ALOS-2 on 24 May was broadcast live via Youtube

On 24 May 2014, the Japanese Space Agency JAXA successfully launched their new mapping satellite Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 “DAICHI-2” (ALOS-2). The satellite was launched onboard the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 24 (H-IIA F24) from Tanegashima Space Center. JAXA reported in a press release: "The launch vehicle flew smoothly, and, at about 15 minutes and 47 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the DAICHI-2 was confirmed."

ALOS-2 will be able to monitor scars left by natural disasters as well as progress made in... read more

Publishing Date: 26/05/2014
Satellite Photo from NASA and JAXA GPM satellite

The joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was launched, as UN-SPIDER reported, on 27 February 2014. Now, NASA has already released first images obtained from the satellite.

The first images show a slump in precipitation inside the 10 March cyclone over the northwest Pacific Ocean.  "It was really exciting to see this high-quality GPM data for the... read more

Publishing Date: 26/03/2014
ALOS-2 be capable of observing day and night

Japan's next generation Earth Observation satellite ALOS-2 will be launched from Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center on 24 May 2014. It will be carried by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 24.

ALOS-2 (Advanced Land Observation Satellite), is designed to support disaster monitoring for example by observing tsunamis and earthquakes. With its updated L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR... read more

Publishing Date: 20/03/2014
Artist concept of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite.

The American and the Japanese Space Agencies, NASA and JAXA, will jointly launch a new Earth Observation satellite in February, as was announced on 26 December 2013. The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory satellite will serve environmental research and weather forecasting. It will be launched on 27 February 2014 with a Japanese H-IIA rocket from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center.

NASA reported: "GPM is an international satellite mission that will provide advanced observations of rain and snowfall... read more

Publishing Date: 27/12/2013
GOCE gravity results compared to a model

ESA’s GOCE satellite revealed earlier this month that the great Japanese Earthquake from 2011 caused a tiny change in the local gravity. The satellite mapped Earth's gravity for four years and clearly shows a disturbance after 2011.

The strength of gravity is different on every point on the planet. It is GOCE’s task to map these differences. The value of gravity depends on the material and density of the rocks underneath the surface. Since earthquakes move those layers, they can also cause change in the local gravity. But the 2011 Earthquake was significant for one more reason – the epicenter was under the ocean, so the layers movement also caused a displacement of large water body, which also could have an effect on... read more

Publishing Date: 16/12/2013
Mayor of Sendai City and UNISDR Chief present the Logo of the Conference

The General Assembly confirmed that the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in Sendai City, Japan from 14 to18 March 2015. The main topic on the Conference will be the renewal and further development of the Hyogo Framework for Action which was adopted in 2005 in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster.

UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström said “The 3rd World Conference provides us with a rare opportunity to forge universal agreement on how to build disaster... read more

Publishing Date: 12/12/2013
The catastrophes of Chernobyl and Fukushima are two world's nuclear disasters

On 26 August 2013, Ukraine and Japan agreed to launch a joint satellite project with the aim of monitoring the regions surrounding Chernobyl and Fukushima, sites of the world's greatest nuclear disasters. Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida declared that it will be a joint project of Tokyo University and the Ukrainian state space agency (host to a UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office) with launches of Japanese-developed satellites by Ukrainian carrier rockets.

The catastrophes that had occured in Chernobyl and Fukushima in 1986 and 2011, respectively, are the world's only nuclear disasters categorised as level seven on the United Nations' seven-point International Nuclear Event... read more

Publishing Date: 05/09/2013
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
Satellite sees Japan

Due to unprecedented rainfall in Japan, the Asia Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) has activated the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" on 29 July 2013, in order to deal with the current and potential damages derived from the flood, that have already taken at least one life. It is estimated that during half of the previous day fell half of the average monthly rainfall resulting in severe floods in the Yamaguchi and Shimane Prefectures of Japan, causing the River Abu burst its banks and flood the nearby communities.

Furthermore, besides the floods the rainfall has also caused mudslides, destroying several properties. To avoid future... read more

Publishing Date: 30/07/2013
The ISS plays an important role in helping emergency responders

The International Space Station (ISS) partner agencies released a common statement on 17 July 2013 underlining the benefits of the space station during disasters caused by natural hazards on Earth. The ISS partner agencies US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, Russian Federal Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency stated "The ISS Partners are committed to continuing to share this unique asset in space and the benefits it brings to life on Earth."

The International Space Station (ISS) is a global research facility primary focused on Earth observation. "A unique complement of automated and crew-operated Earth observation assets are on board the ISS" the statement informs, "in addition, the... read more

Publishing Date: 22/07/2013
Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Martin Dahi

Japan will host the world conference slated to be held next year at which countries will adopt the successor to the current global blueprint for disaster risk reduction efforts,  as announced today at the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that wrapped up in Geneva.

Delegates at the event called for immediately starting work on developing targets and indicators to monitor the reduction of risk, ahead of next year’s conference, to be held in the Japanese city of Sendai. Martin Dahinden, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Chair of the Global Platform, said the three-day meeting confirmed that the process to develop a successor to the Hyogo Framework is well underway.“There is consensus that the new instrument should build on the HFA and introduce the necessary innovations to address the... read more

Publishing Date: 24/05/2013
Tsunami Early Warning improved by GPS measurements

BBC reported on a new German study (Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Sciences) that found that GPS satellite-based positioning could offer detailed information about Tsunami events within minutes of an earthquake occurring. The scientists believe that alerts improved by GPS data could have greatly improved early warnings of the 2011 Tsunami in Japan.

BBC reported: "Existing early warning systems use seismological data, measuring the waves of energy that are generated as the earth moves and shakes. But in the vital first stages of an earthquake, this is not always reliable. Now a team from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences says that satellite navigation technology could... read more

Publishing Date: 21/05/2013
Michibiki, the first satellite of the Quasi-zenith Satellite System (QZSS)

Japan is expanding its navigation satellite program to augment GPS navigation signals for users in the Asia-Pacific region, as spaceflightnow.com reported. The expansion of the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) will be carried out via a $526 million contract with the company Mitsubishi Electric, which will build three navigation satellites to be launched by the end of 2017.

Two of these satellites will be placed in inclined orbits, the third one will operate in geostationary orbit over the equator. The three new satellites will join Japan's firstQZSS satellite, Michibiki, launched in September 2010, thus forming a four-satellite constellation.

According to the Japanese government's Office... read more

Publishing Date: 08/04/2013
Sakurajima Volcano in Kyushu, Japan, seen from space

This will significantly enhance the crisis response and coordination activities of Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA): the AS365 N3 helicopter. Delivered by Eurocopter Japan, this is the world's first helicopter equipped with the Helicopter Satellite Communication System - a high-speed, real-time data transmission system, using Earth-orbiting relay satellites.

The HSA... read more

Publishing Date: 04/04/2013

In a recent press release the European Commission announced that Europe and Japan are forging a closer cooperation in disaster management. Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response and Akihiro Ohta, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan have exchanged letters providing a framework to further enhance EU-Japan cooperation in disaster management.

"Natural Disasters are becoming more intense and more frequent. This makes us all vulnerable. The triple disaster that hit Japan in... read more

Publishing Date: 28/03/2013

After the Great Earthquake hit Japan exactly two years ago, the importance of crowdsourced crisis mapping in any kind of disaster became evident once again. The recently released study "Connecting the Last Mile: Internews Europe Report on the Role of Communications in the Great East Japan Earthquake" elaborated by the UK NGO Internews Europe highlights how communication saved lives after the Japan earthquake and tsunami and how it was essential in helping survivors in the days, weeks and months to recover from the triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power crisis.

In the chapter "Technology volunteers: Crisis Mapping the Disaster", the report sheds light on Japan’s version of the Ushahidi crisis map, sinsai.info, meaning “disaster info”, that had been created... read more

Publishing Date: 12/03/2013

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