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China's Earth observation satellite inducted into service

China’s high definition earth observation satellite Gaofen-1 has been formally inducted into service, it was announced ending December

According to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), the satellite has undergone eight months of in-orbit tests since it blasted off April 26. It has met requirements and performed even better than expected by sending high quality photos, Xinhua reported.

The satellite will help in geographic and resources surveys, environment and climate change monitoring, precision agriculture, disaster relief and city planning.

Its major users will be the land and resources, environmental protection and agriculture ministries.

Gaofen-1 means China is self-sufficient in more high resolution earth observation data and its use of remote sensing satellites has entered a new phase, said Xu Dazhe, head of the SASTIND.

Gaofen-1 provided data on the Lushan earthquake in Sichuan, floods in northeast China and smog in north and east China during the test period. It also provided Pakistan with image data after the Sep 24 earthquake.

Gaofen-1 is the first of the five or six satellites to be launched for high definition earth observation before 2016. It is also the first low orbit remote sensing satellite designed to be used for more than five years.

It carries two 2m panchromatic and 8m multi-spectral high definition cameras and four 16m resolution wide angle cameras, which means it can capture images of a car or even a bicycle on earth.

Wang Chengwen, deputy head of the Gaofen project, said Gaofen-1’s efficiency at earth observation is much greater compared to other remote sensing satellites.

The Gaofen-2 satellite is scheduled to be launched in early 2014.