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On 6 November 2014, five Japanese satellites were sent into orbit from the Dombarovsky launch site, in Russia.

One of the satellites launched was ASNARO-1, an Earth observation mission funded by the Government of Japan in 2008. The Advanced Satellite with new System Architecture for Observation (ASNARO) mission will be used in the fields of environmental observation, disaster monitoring and security enhancement. ASNARO-1 has an expected life span of 3 years and a swath width of 10 km.

ASNARO-1 was sent into space together with four micro-satellites in the 50-Kilogram weight class dedicated to various technical demonstrations, Earth observation and scientific studies: Hodoyoshi-1, ChubuSat-1, Tsubame and QSAT-EOS. Tsubame is an experimental micro-satellite designed for the remote-sensing of the Earth and for high-energy astrophysics experiments; Hodoyoshi-1 satellite…

Publishing date 10/11/2014

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, which was launched on 28 February 2014. JAXA specified: "Since the PR hardware is still in healthy condition, JAXA plans to conduct extra experimental operations of the PR during about 6 months while the spacecraft descending. The PR observation data around 350 km, which is original nominal altitude, will be distributed to public after verification. Also, NASA continues operations of the TRMM Microwave Imager while the spacecraft descending, since its operations do not depend on altitude."…

Publishing date 22/10/2014

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 of China, the Dominican Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

One of the key aims of the group is to ensure that the existing text on the use of Earth observations and Space-based information in the…

Publishing date 14/10/2014

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 emergency response. For instance, “Himarawi-8” will improve the capacity to forecast typhoons, due to its ability to capture a typhoon once every 2.5 minutes, rather than at the current time-pace of 30 minutes. Also, innovative multi-colour images will replace black and white ones, facilitating the detection of volcanic gas plumes and enhancing the possibility of early warnings of volcanic eruption…

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 Europe to promote the use of Space-based information at WCDRR. In doing so, in September 2014, UN-SPIDER and several partners have approached selected government agencies requesting their…

Publishing date 02/10/2014

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 expect that novel space utilizations and new space users will appear, creating an industry of space development and novel applications. For example, low cost and quick development satellites will enable frequent Earth observation using a large number of satellites or the concept of…

Publishing date 07/08/2014

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 northern hemisphere and roughly 11 hours in the southern hemisphere, allowing them to remain near Japan for a long period of time."

The satellites provide data for the monitoring of…

Publishing date 29/07/2014

In early July 2014, Super Typhoon Neoguri has been heavily affecting Japan. Neoguri developed from tropical storm into a super typhoon over the first week of July. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station and NASA’s Earth Observing System satellites, Terra and Aqua, have tracked Neoguri since it was 238 miles west of Andersen Air Force Base on Guam.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite monitored Super Typhoon Neoguri on 5 July observing heavy rainfall. On that same day it became a typhoon, with maximum sustained winds at 132 mph, and Terra satellite captured an image of this phase. On 6 July, NASA's Aqua satellite captured this false-colored infrared image

Publishing date 09/07/2014

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 elevation data from the first Daichi satellite, which was decommissioned three years ago, the data was processed into 3-D pictures that show the actual situation and changes on Izu-Oshima Island. Izu-Oshima Island was affected on 16 October 2013 by Typhoon Wipha which passed over the island dropping 80cm of rain in 24 hours and causing a landslide that killed 35 people. The 3-D images clearly show the scars and damages triggered by the…

Publishing date 03/07/2014

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 and Ukraine correctly acknowledge the impact on the environment near the two plants," project leader Shinichi Nakasuka, from the University of Tokyo, said.

Publishing date 24/06/2014

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 authors “not only short term indicators, but also long term indicators are necessary to detect pre-signals. Simultaneous dramatic changes at multiple points enable the identification…

Publishing date 30/05/2014

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 reconstruction, JAXA said, according to Geospatial World. The new satellite will not only collect data related to deformation of the Earth's crust, but also the impact of floods and landslides.

JAXA broadcast the launch live; a recorded version of the webcast is now also…

Publishing date 26/05/2014

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 first time," said GPM project scientist Gail Skofronick-Jackson at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt "I knew we had entered a new era in measuring precipitation from space. We now can measure global precipitation of all types, from light drizzle to heavy downpours to falling snow."

The GMI instrument aboard GPM has 13 channels that measure natural energy radiated from the Earth and precipitation. The GPM Core Observatory is the first…

Publishing date 26/03/2014

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), called PALSAR-2, ALOS-2 be capable of observing day and night, and in all weather conditions. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency points out: "The observation frequency of ALOS-2 will be improved by greatly expanding the observable range of the satellite up to about 3 times, through an improvement in observable areas (from 870km to 2,320km), as well as giving ALOS-2 a right-and-left looking function."

ALOS-2 will replace ALOS-1, which was launched in 2006 and provided relevant information regarding the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. ALOS-1, though still in…

Publishing date 20/03/2014

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 worldwide, several times a day to enhance our understanding of the water and energy cycles that drive Earth's climate. The data provided by the Core Observatory will be used to calibrate precipitation measurements made by an international network of partner satellites to quantify when, where, and how much it rains or snows around the world."

"Launching this core observatory and establishing the Global Precipitation Measurement mission is vitally important…

Publishing date 27/12/2013

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 gravity.

The GOCE satellite accomplished its mission and is not in orbit any more. The information it gathered will be analyzed for years - concerning warm water movements in the oceans, atmospheric density and of course gravity. Surprisingly the…

Publishing date 16/12/2013

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 resilience across all sectors of society.” The organizers expect more than 8,000 people to attend the Conference including government, private sector, science and NGO’s representatives.

Publishing date 12/12/2013

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 Scale (INES). According to official figures, more than 25,000 of the cleanup workers from then-Soviet Ukraine, Russia and Belarus died since the disaster in Chernobyl in 1986, while…

Publishing date 05/09/2013
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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 losses the authorities have already advised an evacuation of the affected areas (an estimated total of 5000 people), since the weather forecast indicates that the storms will continue.

Publishing date 30/07/2013

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 orbit of the ISS provides a distinct perspective over Earth targets that augments polar-orbiting remote sensing spacecraft". Consequently, it is easy to imagine the numerous benefits that the ISS…

Publishing date 22/07/2013

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 challenges of increasing risk over the next 20 to 30 years,” he stated.


The 10-year Hyogo Framework for…

Publishing date 24/05/2013

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 help. GPS sensors placed around the coastlines of vulnerable countries could make highly precise measurements of how underwater tremors shift the ground. Lead researcher Dr Andreas…

Publishing date 21/05/2013

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 of National Space Policy, GPS signals are currently only available about 90 percent of the time in Japan, but satellite navigation will be possible 99.8 percent of the time with the QZSS satellites.

Publishing date 08/04/2013

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 transmits data without being disturbed by the helicopter's moving rotor blades. It furthermore allows for perfect transmission even when mountains or tall buildings hamper line-of-site broadcasts, or when ground-based networks are interrupted.

The Eurocopter AS365 N3, equipped with HSA, will presumably be operational in early April of this year. Then it will support the organization's services in dispatching and coordinating rescue team responses to disaster situations.

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 March 2011 showed that even the best prepared countries can be overwhelmed by the force of nature. We can better meet these challenges by working together. I am convinced that exchanging information and best practices will benefit us both, the EU and Japan," said Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.

The letters provide the basis for cooperation in a broad spectrum of disaster risk reduction topics,…

Publishing date 28/03/2013