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FormoSat-5 images out of focus; adjustment may take months: NARLabs

2017/09/19 16:15:55

Taipei, Sept. 19 (CNA) The first photos taken by Taiwan's FormoSat-5 satellite were fuzzy and marred by light spots, which were caused by a focusing problem on the satellite's remote sensing instrument (RSI), the designer National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) said Tuesday

The NT$5.6 billion (US$186 million) FormoSat-5, which was launched in the United States Aug. 25 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, is designed to capture panchromatic images with a resolution of up to two meters per pixel, and multispectral images with a resolution of four meters per pixel.

However, the first images of Earth taken by the RSI were blurry and those of urban areas were marred by light spots, Yu Shiann-jeng (余憲政), deputy chief of NARLabs' National Space Organization (NSPO), confirmed in the wake of local media reports on the issue.

Yu said that after days of observation, the NSPO had concluded that there was a problem with the RSI's focusing function and was trying to make some adjustments.

Regarding the light spots on the images, he said the NSPO was trying to adjust the position and interior temperature of the satellite, among other measures being taken to solve the problem.

The NSPO will also compare the images taken by FormoSat-5 and its predecessor FormoSat-2, using software to improve the former's image resolution, Yu said.

Meanwhile, NARLabs Vice President Wu Kuang-chong (吳光鐘) said the initial testing of FormoSat-5 will take time.

"The current assessment is that the image adjustment will take about two to three months to complete," he said.

FormoSat-5, a 450-kg octagonal shape mini-satellite that is 2.8 meters in height and 1.6 meters in diameter, was designed and built by the NSPO.

The satellite's mission is to advance and demonstrate Taiwan's indigenous space technology in the field of remote sensing satellites, to continue to serve global imagery users previously served by FormoSat-2, and to promote domestic space science research, according to the NSPO.

FormoSat-5 carries an optical remote sensing payload and a science payload to execute remote sensing missions and perform science research, respectively.

(By Huang Li-yun and Elizabeth Hsu)