Press Release


Global Change Observation Mission 1st - Water
"SHIZUKU" (GCOM-W1) Critical Operation Period Completion

May 19, 2012 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Japan aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) completed the critical operation period for the Global Change Observation Mission 1st - Water "SHIZUKU" (GCOM-W1) after we successfully performed essential events including the scheduled orbit insertion and the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) initial run-up(*1).
The satellite is currently in good health.

JAXA will take about 45 days to insert the satellite into the "A-Train" (*2) orbit, which is the SHIZUKU's observation orbit, in order to participate in an Earth observation mission called the "A-Train" in cooperation with satellites of other countries while performing the initial functional confirmation(*3) for about three months.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all the parties and personnel concerned for their support and cooperation with the SHIZUKU launch and tracking control operations.

(*1) AMSR2 initial run-up
The setting to shift the initial rotation of the AMSR2 to 4 rpm.

(*2) A-Train (The Afternoon Constellation)
Please see the attachment.

(*3) Initial functional confirmation
Operations to verify if the overall satellite, as well as functions of onboard observation sensors, are working properly.

A-Train (The Afternoon Constellation)

The Afternoon Constellation, or "A-Train", is an Earth observation satellite constellation run by NASA, and consists of multiple satellites orbiting the Earth in close proximity at an altitude of about 700km,crossing the equator at around 1:30 p.m. local mean solar time. This system allows satellites from various countries to cooperate in earth observations, and Japan will participate in the system for first time with the SHIZUKU.
Currently, in the A-train, the following satellites are flying on the same orbit and passing the same point with an interval of around 10 minutes: Aqua (NASA, U.S.A.), CloudSat (NASA, U.S.A), CALIPSO (NASA, U.S.A./ CNES, France), Aura (NASA, U.S.A.)

A-Train (Satellite constellation) member satellites
  • Aura (NASA, USA) launched on July 15, 2004)
    To acquire observation data for elucidating the composition of the earth atmosphere, its chemical react, and dynamics.
  • CALIPSO (NASA/CNES, USA/France) launched on April 28 2006)
    An optical lidar satellite to acquire observation data to clarify impact of aerosol and clouds on the Earth's climate
  • CloudSat (NASA, USA launched on April 28, 2006)
    A radio wave radar satellite to acquire observation data to study the impact of clouds on the Earth's climate
  • Aqua (NASA, USA launched on May 4, 2002)
    The name came from the Latin word "Aqua" meaning water. The satellite acquires observation data on the Earth's various water circulations including water vapor in the atmosphere and from the ocean, clouds, precipitation, ocean ice, and ground water.

For more information about A-Train, please refer to the following website.