An Army of Mini Satellites Will Scour Asia for Natural Disasters From Space

By Bryan Lufkin on at

Natural disasters seem to be more plentiful and powerful than ever. But an alliance of Asian countries and universities is coming to the rescue. The plan is to launch a flock of small satellites to help monitor destruction as it unfolds on Earth, providing emergency responders with critical information faster than ever.

Japan’s Hokkaido and Tohoku Universities are teaming with a swath of Asian nations for the microsatellite project. Partners include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, Nikkei Asian Review reports. Each nation will send a share of the microsatellites to the International Space Station, where they’ll be sent into orbit from Kibo, the Japanese module aboard the ISS.

The satellites are tiny: 20-inch cubes that weigh about 50 kilos. That’s 5 per cent the size of a typical satellite. These microsatellites will hang at about 300 miles above Earth, using cameras to photograph Earth’s surface with a resolution of around 10 to 16 feet.

The researchers hope to have 50 of the satellites in orbit by 2020. It’s no small feat, because they cost around £1.76 million each. Apparently, it only takes 25 satellites cover all of Asia, so if we can hit the full 50, this kind of microsatellite technology could be useful to a huge chunk of the world.

An Army of Mini Satellites Will Scour Asia for Natural Disasters From Space

Tohoku University researchers with a microsatellite. Credit: Tohoku University

[Nikkei Asian Review]

Top image: Shutterstock

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