Ongoing research in space: completion of the Japanese Advanced Land Observing Satellite operations
On 12 May 2011, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) decided to complete the Advanced Land Observing Satellite ‘DAICHI’ (ALOS) operations by sending a command to halt ALOS’ onboard transmitter and batteries. This command is a last resource, after which the satellite will start to loose orbit, approaching Earth until it falls into the atmosphere, where it will burn. JAXA had been trying to communicate with ALOS for the past three weeks, after it developed a power generation anomaly.
Launched on January 24, 2006 (JST), ALOS had been operational for over five years, which was its target life and well beyond its design life of three years. During this time it provided fruitful results relating to earth observations. UNESCO, jointly with the University of Zurich, was one of the main investigators of the ALOS project, testing prototype images and later real images of World Heritage sites. There is still large amount of data in the current ALOS archive, we hope that the international community will continue to benefit from this excellent satellite imagery.
JAXA continues to investigate the causes of the power generation anomaly based on the data acquired from the satellite in order to correct any anomaly for ALOS-2.
UNESCO wishes to congratulate its space partner JAXA for the successful design, development and implementation of the ALOS projects and for the resulting images used within the framework of UNESCO’s ‘Space for Heritage’ activities.