The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) launched its new Himawari-9 geostationary meteorological satellite on 2 November 2016 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Tanegashima Space Center using H-IIA launch vehicle No. 31 (H-IIA F31). The satellite entered geostationary orbit on 11 November 2016 as scheduled.
The unit was successfully launched and separated from its carrying vehicle about 30 minutes after liftoff. It then began the independent stage of its flight and fired its on-board engine for a series of maneuvers before entering geostationary orbit on 11 November (Figure 1). In-orbit test will be conducted until March 2017, and Himawari-9 will then be maintained as backup to the currently operational Himawari-8 geostationary meteorological satellite. These two new-generation units will support JMA’s stable provision of continuous satellite observation data for the Asia and Pacific regions until 2029.
Over nearly four decades since the launch of the first-generation GMS unit on 14 July 1977, a series of Himawari geostationary meteorological satellites has supported monitoring of severe weather conditions and regional risk reduction activities. The launch of Himawari-9 represents a second wave in the new chapter marked by the start of Himawari-8’s operations in the history of regional meteorological observation.
“We have always put users’ priorities first,” says JMA Satellite Program Division director Hitomi Miyamoto. “Users of HimawariCloud, HimawariCast will not need to change their settings to maintain service provision once Himawari-9 begins operation.”
Figure 1 Himawari-9’s path into orbit
To support user transition and enhanced utilization of data from these new-generation satellites, JMA has dispatched satellite and forecast experts to user countries in order to provide training since Himawari-8 began operation in July 2015.
“Our expert teams have provided training for more than 20 NMHSs in over 15 countries,” says JMA Tokyo Typhoon Center senior forecaster and satellite analysis specialist Shuji Nishimura. “During the training, JMA experts extensively discuss a range of matters with local NMHS users.
Areas of focus include basic interpretation of satellite imagery, monitoring of severe weather phenomena, utilization of JMA’s SATAID satellite imagery analysis program, and the use of HimawariCast receiving equipment.” (Figure 2) “Training covers the basics as well as current considerations like the use of JMA’s newly developed RGB imagery. To leverage these training opportunities, we target enhanced collaboration with forecasters in the relevant regions and welcome related feedback.”
JMA remains committed to supporting NMHSs in their utilization of satellite data and contributing to the mitigation of disaster risk in these regions.
Figure 2 Training at Cambodia’s Department of Meteorology (far left: JMA’s Shuji Nishimura)