China launches satellite to monitor world’s oceans

A Chinese Long March 2C rocket lifted off Friday with the Haiyang 1C ocean observation satellite. Credit: Xinhua

A Chinese marine observation satellite designed to monitor ocean pollution, measure sea temperatures and track ship movements successfully launched Friday on top of a Long March 2C rocket.

The Haiyang 1C spacecraft lifted off at 0315 GMT Friday (11:15 p.m. EDT Thursday) from the Taiyuan space center in Shanxi province, located in northeastern China, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Chinese officials declared the Long March 2C flight a success, marking the country’s 24th space launch of 2018, and extending the record for the highest number of Chinese launches in a year.

The liquid-fueled, two-stage Long March 2C rocket delivered the Haiyang 1C satellite into an orbit roughly 485 miles (780 kilometers) above Earth, with a ground track tilted 98.6 degrees to the equator, according to U.S. military tracking data.

The Haiyang satellite series — named for the Chinese word for “ocean” — is dedicated to maritime surveillance, environmental monitoring, and oceanography.

Haiyang 1C will “monitor ocean color and water temperatures, providing basic data for research on the global oceanic environment,” China’s Xinhua news agency reported, citing the the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

The satellite weighed 974 pounds (442 kilograms) at launch, according to data provided by the World Meteorological Organization. Haiyang 1C also carries a coastal zone imager to collect medium-resolution imagery, and an antenna to detect location signals broadcast by ships.

Haiyang 1C’s ocean color measurements will detect chlorophyll in Earth’s oceans, suspended sediments, and soluble organic matter, officials said. Information from the new Chinese satellite will also help officials determine the health of fish stocks and other natural resources.

China launched three previous marine observation satellites: Haiyang 1A in 2002, Haiyang 1B in 2007, and Haiyang 2A — the first in a new line of spacecraft with different oceanography instruments — in 2011.

Xinhua said the Haiyang 1D satellite, the next in the series, is set for launch in 2019.

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