Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Russian Space Research Center Puts Up-to-Date Weather Maps Online

Image of Earth captured by the Electro-L satellite. Credit: electro.ntsomz.ru

A Russian space research center has launched a website providing online users with up-to-date satellite imagery of Earth’s weather, the Roscosmos space agency said Monday. The images are provided by the nearly two-ton Electro-L satellite, which was launched in 2011. The satellite hovers in a fixed spot above Earth’s equator in a geostationary orbit, enabling it to capture consecutive images of nearly the entire eastern hemisphere. Photos assembled into a time-lapse video of the past 24 hours are continually updated on the Research Center for Earth Operative Monitoring’s website.

The spacecraft's MSU-GS imaging system is able to provide a resolution of 1 km per pixel for the two visible bands and 4 km for eight infrared bands (ranging from 800 nm to 11,500 nm). They normally take images every 30 minutes, but in case of emergencies, the interval can be shortened to 10 minutes. The camera is an optical-mechanical scanner, sampling the visible bands at 12,576 pixels per line.

The spacecraft, with a planned lifetime 10 years, is the first of three Russian geostationary meteorological satellites for weather forecasting and scientific research slated for orbit by 2015.

Elektro–L's predecessor was the Elektro 1 satellite which was launched in 1994. Like Elektro–L, it was also designed to operate in geostationary orbit, but never became fully operational.

Credit: RIA Novosti

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