Thursday, January 10, 2008

Daichi Japanese satellite, a disappointment

An advanced Japanese surveying satellite launched two years ago is proving to be a disappointment, producing images too blurry for map-makers, officials said Wednesday.

The 457.8-million-dollar "Daichi" satellite was sent into space to create detailed maps of remote parts of Japan, but the images have not been of sufficient quality, the government's Geographical Survey Institute said.

"For many places, we now expect to conduct land surveys to update the maps," said Takashi Hayashi, an official with the institute. "We will use the satellite images as reference materials to review major changes, such as new highways, new shopping malls and reclaimed land," he said.

The institute takes aerial pictures of Japan every five years for thorough updates of local maps and had hoped the satellite would complement the work. But officials have so far used the Daichi satellite's images to update maps of just 52 of 4,300 section images of Japan.

"It is not cost effective for us to send airplanes to places as remote as Iwo-to for regular updates," Hayashi said. Engineers and officials from the map institute and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are discussing ways to improve the Daichi images and how best to use the data, Hayashi said. "If there is no improvement, use of the Daichi images will be difficult," he said.

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