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Taiwan celebrates 10th year of Formosat-2

TAIPEI -- Scientists on Wednesday celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launch of Formosat-2, the first Earth observation satellite developed in Taiwan.

Launched May 21, 2004 in California, Formosat-2 has orbited the planet over 50,000 times and collected photos covering an area as large as 7.5 times the total land surface of the Earth, according to the National Space Organization (NSPO) under the National Applied Research Laboratories.

Since the first picture was taken June 4, 2004, the satellite has helped image 244 disasters and their aftermath, providing the pictures to 57 countries for reference, said Lee Lou-chuang, former director-general of the NSPO, at a seminar in Taipei.

The tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in 2004, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, Typhoon Morakot in central and southern Taiwan in 2009, and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan were all recorded by the eye in the sky, he added.

Chang Guey-shin, incumbent director-general of the NSPO, said the satellite is “really a part of our daily life” in light of its daily revisit and global coverage features.

The satellite also provides images for scientific research, environmental monitoring and other applications and covers polar areas that most satellites do not, Chang added.

Herve Lambert, former project manager of Formosat-2, recalled at the seminar his “very emotional feelings” when he saw the first picture taken by the satellite 10 years ago.

“It was a fantastic experience,” he said, adding that the powerful satellite can benefit the whole world.

The one-day seminar in Taipei brought together some 200 scholars and experts from Taiwan and abroad, including scientists from Japan, France and Switzerland.

It was part of a series of 10th anniversary events being held by the NSPO.

They include nationwide exhibitions that will kick off May 23 with a three month display in Taipei and a TV program about the satellite, which is scheduled to be aired on TTV May 26, the organizers said.

The NSPO has also released a book titled “Under the Sky,” which features a collection images taken by the satellite, they said.

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