China's best optical Earth-observation satellite for civil use has
finished its in-orbit tests and started formal operation on Thursday.
At a handover ceremony at the China National Space Administration on
Thursday morning, designers of the Gaofen 7 announced that the satellite
had begun serving its major users－the Ministry of Natural Resources,
the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National
Bureau of Statistics.
Developed and built by the China Academy of Space Technology, the
spacecraft is expected to play an important role in land surveying and
mapping, urban and rural planning and statistical investigation,
according to the space administration.
With a design life of eight years, the 2.7-metric-ton satellite was
launched atop a Long March 4B carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite
Launch Center in Shanxi province in November and is operating at more
than 500 kilometers above the ground.
The satellite is equipped with two types of mission payloads－two
line-scan cameras capable of taking 3D images of the Earth and a laser
altimeter used to measure the height of objects on the ground.
It successfully went through a succession of tests over the past
eight months, and has produced and sent back more than 106,000 images,
the space administration said.
During its testing period, the satellite assisted in efforts to
recalculate the height of Qomolangma－known as Mount Everest in the West,
build temporary hospitals in Wuhan for COVID-19 patients and fight
against the floods that ravaged many areas in China this summer, it
The administration has published some high-resolution images taken by
Gaofen 7 of the Beijing Capital International Airport, the Beijing
Daxing International Airport and some regions in China's Anhui,
Guangdong and Shandong provinces, as well as some foreign areas.
Airplanes, vehicles, buildings and trees can be seen clearly in the
China launched the Gaofen program in May 2010 and listed it as one of
the 16 national key projects in science and technology. The program
aims to form a space-based, high-resolution Earth observation network by
2020. So far, more than 10 Gaofen satellites have been launched, and
all of them are in active service.
Images and data from the Gaofen satellites have been widely used in
more than 20 industries across China and have helped reduce the
country's dependence on foreign remote-sensing products.
Zhang Kejian, director of the space administration, said at
Thursday's ceremony that his administration will continue fostering the
applications of Gaofen products in more industries.
The space administration has opened a website to give users around
the world access to images and data generated by Gaofen satellites.