China successfully launched its first satellite dedicated to measuring precipitation on Earth, the Fengyun 3G (FY 3G), which is expected to improve the accuracy of global rainstorm early warnings on Sunday. Built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), FY 3G is the 20th member of the Fengyun series of satellites and one of only three satellites in the world that can monitor precipitation from space. The China Meteorological Administration will build and operate FY 3G’s ground system.
Previously, precipitation data were mainly collected through ground-based rain gauges and radar, which could not provide large-scale, high-precision information due to equipment shortages and uneven distribution. FY 3G will solve this problem by filling data gaps and providing data for areas where ground-based measurements are sparse.
FY 3G is also equipped with dual-frequency precipitation measurement radar to monitor drizzle, even at an altitude of 407 km, improving the accuracy of precipitation monitoring and early warning. It has a low-inclination orbit with an inclination of 50 degrees and will mainly provide precipitation data within the range of 50 degrees north latitude to 50 degrees south latitude.
The satellite’s lifespan is six years. In the next six months, it will undergo in-orbit tests to prepare for meteorological disasters such as rainstorms and typhoons during the upcoming flood season. China currently has eight Fengyun meteorological satellites functioning. These provide data products and services to 126 countries and regions. Chen Zhenlin, head of the Central Meteorological Observatory, said that FY 3G would highlight the strength of China’s low-orbit meteorological satellite constellation.