Japan wants more than a birds-eye-view of natural disasters, it wants the same view astronauts and aliens get. With the launch of a new satellite the Japanese are getting their wish.
The Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 blasted into low orbit in May and is believed to be the only satellite orbiting the earth dedicated solely to disaster relief.
Japanese officials hope ALOS-2 will spend as much time as possible mapping the nation with high resolution 3D images, which will be used to allow planners to identify areas that are prone to danger in the event of natural disaster low-lying areas susceptible to floods and even bulges in the earth where magma is building prior to the eruption of a volcano.
Once a disaster happens ALOS-2 can deliver high res images of the affected areas, with the capability to spotlight troubled areas to the meter, giving rescue workers as precise as possible a look at troubled areas. Japanese officials can then respond quickly, hopefully saving lives.
ALOS-2 is actually the second generation disaster satellite. In 2006 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched ALOS-1. It was used to map seismic waves caused by earthquakes, including the tsunami that created a Japanese national disaster in 2011. ALOS-2 offers better imaging than its predecessor, which was decommissioned in 2011.
The ALOS-2 satellite is orbiting about 400 miles above the earth and can take a picture that encompasses 1,400 miles. When not mapping disaster areas, ALOS-2 can also detect and record the earth's carbon emissions and track the depletion of rainforests.
Congratulations to the Japanese for thinking ahead when it comes to disaster relief planning. It would be nice to see other countries follow Japan's lead, providing a network of satellites that can help with disaster relief efforts across the globe.
Of course, no amount of satellites can prevent natural disasters. Relief will always be necessary, and you can help. Visit the Care To Click Disaster page and donate a free click or print useful coupons. At CareToClick.com, your small actions prompt our donations to organizations providing disaster relief.