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Satellite to provide images of disasters

KATHMANDU: A team of Japanese scientists has installed a receiver that will directly provide real time satellite imagery when natural disasters occur in the country. The receiver was installed on the premises of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD in Khumaltar of Lalitpur)

The team led by Shinya Tanaka, senior engineer at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) installed the receiver. “This satellite receiver will provide direct real time satellite imageries of disaster afflicted areas directly which would help in rapid response mapping and monitoring of major disasters,” said Dr Giriraj Amarnath, remote sensing specialist at ICIMOD.

The JAXA WINDS (Wideband Internetworking Engineering Test and Demonstration Satellites ‘KIZUNA’) receiving station at ICIMOD will be formally launched on October 3.

Sentinel Asia is a voluntary initiative led by the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF), which supports disaster management activity in the Asia-Pacific region by applying the Web- Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and space-based technology, such as earth observation satellite data. Such receivers have already been installed in Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand and India with central server system in Japan.

At present five satellites, namely ALOS of Japan, KOMPSAT of Korea, THEOS of Thailand, FORMOSAT of Taiwan and Resourcesat-1 of India are currently operating as earth observatory satellites that focus on disaster-related issues.

During large-scale natural disasters, the satellite will focus on the site upon request from the authority here and regular images of the site can be directly accessed from Nepal as the receiver has been installed here. It will focus on implementation of satellite-data production systems for wildfire, flooding and Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) information.

During emergency operations in times of disaster, emergency observation is requested from here. JAXA then allocates WINDS resources in line with the emergency observation request and satellite observation plan. Satellite observation data are then transferred via WINDS.

“Earth observation system is widely used during disasters and has been seen quite useful, so its promotion is the need of the hour and this satellite will be one of the best resources for understanding big natural disasters as we are very vulnerable to GLOF and big floods and landslides,” said Basanta Shrestha of ICIMOD.

Although crude satellite imagery is received directly, value added information like inundation area and total affected area can be extracted and simplified so that the public can easily understand. The WINDS system can perform high-speed communication at maximum speed of 155 Megabyte per second


by Ramesh Prasad Bhushal