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GCOM (Global Change Observation Mission) is a project for the global and long-term observation of the Earth environment. GCOM is expected to play an important role in monitoring global water circulation and climate change. It will be a kind of health checkup of the Earth from space.

GCOM consists of two satellite series, GCOM-W and GCOM-C. GCOM-W carries the AMSR2 (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2), an instrument to observe water-related targets such as precipitation, water vapor, sea surface wind speed, sea surface temperature, soil moisture, and snow depth. GCOM-C carries the SGLI (Second Generation Global Imager), an instrument for surface and atmospheric measurements of phenomena involved in the carbon cycle and radiation budget, such as clouds, aerosol, ocean color, vegetation, and snow and ice.

Global and long-term observation (10-15 years) by GCOM will help scientists understand the mechanisms of water circulation and climate change.

"SHIZUKU"(GCOM-W1) is the first satellite of the GCOM-W series. The SHIZUKU was launched on May 18, 2012 (Japan Standard Time) from the Tanegashima Space Center and started regular observations by the onboard sensor, Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2), on July 3 after entering into the A-train orbit on June 29.

The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) on-board "SHIZUKU" (GCOM-W1) is a remote sensing instrument for measuring weak microwave emission from the surface and the atmosphere of the Earth. From 700 km above the Earth, the AMSR2 will provide us with highly accurate measurements of the intensity of microwave emission.

The antenna of the AMSR2 rotates once per 1.5 seconds and obtains data over a 1450 km swath. This conical scan mechanism enables the AMSR2 to acquire a set of daytime and nighttime data with more than 99% coverage of the Earth every 2 days.

The AMSR2 is a successor to the AMSR on Japanese ADEOS-II and the AMSR-E on Aqua, a NASA satellite.

For more information on the GCOM-W1 mission please visit JAXA GCOM-W1 website:

Last modified on September 19, 2012 12:09 PM
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