Image from microsatellite

Print edition : August 08, 2014

An image of Minami-Uonama City, Niigata, (about 3.2 km × 2.2 km) on July 2 at 12:09:22 Japan Time. Photo: Rising-2 HPT Tohoku Univ./Hokkaido Univ.

A JAPANESE microsatellite, Rising-2, that weighs 43 kg and was built by students of Tohoku University and Hokkaido University succeeded in capturing images of the earth’s surface. The development of this microsatellite began in 2009 with a satellite bus developed by Tohoku University and observation equipment by Hokkaido University. A High Precision Telescope (HPT) is one of its observation instruments and was designed as a compact (length: 38 cm, aperture diameter: 10 cm, weight: about 3 kg,), and yet highly capable, imaging system to take the world’s first photographic images in 400 spectral bands.

Since its launch on May 24 from the Tanegashima Space Centre by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) H-IIA rocket, Rising-2 has been obtaining dayside cloud imagery and night views of city lights and airglow using a wide field-of-view CCD camera.

Recently, high-resolution imaging experiments using HPT were started, and Rising-2 captured colour images at a spatial resolution of 5 m, the highest in the world among such satellites.

On July 2, Rising-2 succeeded in shooting a detailed landscape in sunny spells during the rainy season.

The high resolution implies that microsatellites of this class can be used for practical applications such as environmental monitoring and mapping. The imaging system utilises advanced technologies such as a liquid crystal tunable filter (LCTF) and a mirror using special ceramics. Rising-2 will also attempt to obtain multispectral images with the LCTF that allows wavelength selection.