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Photo quality of FormoSat-5 of commercial value now: NSPO

2017/11/29 22:53:31

Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) The quality of photos taken by Taiwan's first self-made satellite, earlier reported to be fuzzy and marred by light spots, has improved and is now of commercial value, a senior executive of the National Space Organization (NSPO) said Tuesday.

On Sept. 19, the first photos taken by Taiwan's FormoSat-5 satellite were reported to be of questionable quality, caused by a focusing problem on the satellite's remote sensing instrument (RSI), according to the satellite's designer National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs).

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 2 meters per pixel (mpp), and multispectral images with a resolution of 4 mpp.

After calibration, photos from FormoSat-5 now have a resolution of 3 mpp in black and white and 5 mpp in color, which can be used for most commercial purposes, said Yu Shiann-jeng (余憲政), deputy director general of the NSPO.

A group of nine experts and academics, assembled to fix the problem, has adjusted the temperature and refocused the remote-sensing instrument using a technique called deconvolution, with visible results, Yu said.

The NSPO will keep working to improve the FormoSat-5's photo quality, which was set at a resolution of 2x4 meters, he added.

The NSPO had earlier found that there was a problem with the RSI's focusing function, which it said might have been caused by vibration from the rocket at the time of launch.

The images taken by FormoSat-5 now are better than those from its predecessor FormoSat-2, Yu said.

FormoSat-5, a 450-kg octagonal 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.

The FormoSat-5 satellite was launched on August 25 at 2:50 a.m. Taiwan time from the U.S. Vandenberg Air Force Base.

(By Chu Tze-wei and S.C. Chang)