Japanese Government Initiates Space-Borne Hyperspectral Payload Program

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) recently announced the initiation of a 5-year program for the research and development of a next-generation Earth observation satellite payload with hyperspectral capabilities.
METI has a long heritage of successful satellite payload projects focused on resource exploration and management – including the ASTER sensor (on NASA’s Terra spacecraft) and the PALSAR sensor (on JAXA’s ALOS spacecraft). METI is understood to be interested in novel and advanced applications made possible by a hybrid sensor – combining traditional multispectral imaging at 5-meters spatial resolution with hyperspectral imaging at lower spatial resolutions – but at over 185 different spectral bands. Hyperspectral applications are of great interest in resource exploration, as well as in defence, agriculture and environmental management and monitoring.
METI funding for the 5-year program amounts to Y9.5 Bn (US$ 79.1 Mn). Of this, Y8.5 Bn (US$ 70.8 Mn) is ear-marked for R&D efforts on the payload, and Y1 Bn (US$ 8.3 Mn) for application research by Japan’s Earth Remote Sensing Data Analysis Center (ERSDAC). Funding starts in FY2007 with an allocation of Y650 Mn (US$ 5.4 Mn). METI is seeking a partner agency for the provision of both mission launch and spacecraft, and initial discussions are underway with JAXA, NASA and other international agencies with known interest in hyperspectral remote sensing. The in-service date of the mission is anticipated to be no earlier than 2011.
Japanese Government interest in the potential of space-borne hyperspectral imaging was sparked by the launch of World Spectrum Inc (WSI), a planning company established by Itochu Corporation – which explored the feasibility of a commercially-backed remote sensing satellite providing hyperspectral imagery for defence, mineral exploration and other high value applications. Itochu is one of Japan’s largest trading companies, with a number of affiliates in the space sector, and maintains an active role in helping to steer Japan’s national strategy on space-borne hyperspectral technology.
(Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan) and Spacenewsfeed 
Author: EARSC

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