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Japanese craft launched with night-vision mapping radar

24 May 2014

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A Japanese satellite equipped with a sharp-eyed synthetic aperture radar launched Saturday on a mission to map the globe every two weeks, helping authorities respond to natural disasters, track agricultural yields and monitor shipping lanes.

Weighing approximately 2.3 tons, the spacecraft took off at 0305:14 GMT Saturday (11:05:14 p.m. EDT Friday) from the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan's primary rocket launching facility at the southwestern end of the country. Liftoff occurred at 12:05 p.m. Japan Standard Time.

The rocket deployed ALOS 2, also dubbed Daichi 2 for the Japanese word for land, at 0321 GMT (11:21 p.m. EDT).

While the H-2A rocket released four university-built microsatellites a few minutes later, ALOS 2 extended two electricity-generating solar arrays to a wingspan of 54 feet to begin charging the craft's batteries.

Source: Spaceflight Now

Image credit: MHI - H-2A rocket launch

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