BEIJING, Dec. 30 -- China's high-definition Earth observation satellite, the Gaofen-1, has been formally put into service, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) announced Monday.
The satellite has undergone eighth months of in-orbit tests since it blasted off on April 26. It has met requirements and even performed better than expected by sending back high quality photos, according to SASTIND.
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's is self-sufficient in more high-resolution Earth observation data, and China's use of remote-sensing satellite 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 the smog in north and east China during the test period. It also provided Pakistan with image data after the Sept. 24 earthquake.
Gaofen-1 was the first of 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 in use for longer than five years.
It carries two 2m panchromatic/8m multispectral high-definition cameras, and four 16m resolution wide-angle cameras, which means it can capture images of a car or even a bicycle on the Earth.
Wang Chengwen, deputy head of the Gaofen projects, said that Gaofen-1's efficiency of Earth observation is much higher compared to other remote-sensing satellites.
The Gaofen-2 satellite is scheduled to be launched early in 2014.