China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Russia's Monitor-E satellite to watch Chinese chemical spill

Moscow. November 30. (Interfax) Russia may use a special statellite to monitor a Chinese chemical plant spill that is expected to reach the Russian border river next week, an official said.

The Monitor-E remote Earth-probing satellite, launched on August 26, may be employed for monitoring the situation in the Amur River basin, Inessa Glazkova, deputy director general of the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Center, told reporters on Tuesday.

"After receiving the first images from the Monitor-E satellite, we plan to conduct a number of experiments. We also plan to monitor the situation in the Amur River basin, meaning the Chinese benzene slick," Glazkova said.

Last week the Monitor-E satellite transmitted the first images, demonstrated to reporters today.

The Monitor-E satellite, designed by the Khrunichev Center, is Russia's first remote Earth-probing satellite.

Monitor-E has circled the Earth over 2,000 times since the time it was launched into space.

According to Glazkova, the satellite flight tests program is designed for a period of six months.

"We have tested service systems of the spacecraft, and learnt to control them under ordinary and emergency circumstances," Oleg Bakhvalov, chief of the Salyut Design Bureau, told reporters.

He said at the present time the Monitor-E satellite is under comprehensive control, and experts from the Khrunichev Center have embarked on testing its special equipment.

The satellite has transmitted images from two of its cameras. The distributed access camera provides for an image of the surface with a resolution of 20 m. The second panchromatic camera, featuring a resolution of eight meters, is expected to become operational in the near future.

The shooting session of the Earth surface, which took place last week, lasted five minutes and resulted in photographing various parts of Europe.

Glazkova noted that the Khrunichev Center did not plan to develop the second Monitor-family spacecraft.

"The Federal Space Program for 2006-2015 does not include the Monitor. It envisions development of two Resurs-P satellites, designed to survey natural resources. A tender on developing the satellite will be issued. The Monitor spacecraft may participate in the tender," Glazkova said.

According to her, the Monitor-E satellite will be employed for commercial purposes immediately after the flight tests. It will be capable of providing customers with images of one area or another for a fee.

The cost of images, transmitted by Monitor-E, will be lower than that of similar Indian and U.S. satellites, Glazkova said. "We will set a lower price, as compared with those of our rivals, but we will not resort to dumping," she said.

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