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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

27 July 2000

New weather satellite images beam into the Bureau

Some of the first images from a new Chinese weather satellite watching over Australia have now been successfully received by the Bureau of Meteorology, Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, announced today.

Dr Stone said images from the Chinese satellite Feng-Yun-2B promised to greatly improve our understanding of weather systems affecting Australia.

"In particular, these images will improve our knowledge of weather patterns off the Western Australian coast, where much of the weather that affects Australia originates", Sharman Stone said.

"The satellite will play a very important role in helping the Bureau warn communities of tropical cyclones, severe thunderstorms and cold fronts, while also making a significant contribution to climate studies."

Dr Stone said receipt of the test images from Feng-Yun (meaning 'wind cloud') - 2B marked 15 years of great cooperation between the Bureau of Meteorology and the China Meteorological Administration. This included developing systems to utilise satellite data and cooperative studies of weather prediction and climate.

"Such cooperation continues the long tradition of international cooperation in which satellite data and other weather information is freely shared between Member countries of the World Meteorological Organisation. The WMO is one of the most successful and long-running agencies of the United Nations and Australia's Director of the Bureau of Meteorology is currently the President of the WMO".

Dr Stone said the launch of FY-2B also marked 40 years of satellite meteorology, with the first weather satellite TIROS-I launched by the United States in 1960.

Feng-Yun-2B was launched in China last month and sits 35,700 kilometres above the Indian Ocean, over the equator. It is 35 degrees west of Japan's Geostationary Meteorological Satellite GMS-5, which covers Australia and much of the Pacific Ocean.

FY-2B will also act as a communications relay, transmitting numerical weather prediction and meteorological data from automatic weather stations at remote locations.

The Bureau helps maintain the satellite in its correct orbit through a ground station at Cribb Point on Melbourne's Mornington Peninsula. FY-2B replaces FY-2A, which ceased operation on 3 March. It joins an array of orbiting geostationary satellites, including GMS, GOES, METEOSAT and INSAT satellites launched by Japan, the United States, Europe and India respectively.

For the technically minded:

FY-2B is a spin-stabilised satellite, 2.1 metres in diameter weighing 1200 kilograms. The main optical instrument is a three-channel Visible Infrared Spin Scan Radiometer which records images of the earth every hour at three wavelengths: visible (0.55 to 1.05 icrons), water vapour (6.2 to 7.6 microns) and infrared (10.5 to 12.5 microns).

Further information:

High and low-resolution versions of the colour FY-2B image can be viewed and downloaded at the Web site:

The picture is the first Feng-Yun-2B satellite image received by the Bureau of Meteorology on 19 July 2000, via the Bureau's satellite ground station at Cribb Point. The image has been false coloured by combining the visible and infrared images.

Simon Frost, Office of Dr Stone MP
0419 495 468 or (02) 6277 2016

Dr David Griersmith, Superintendent Satellite Section,
tel: (03) 9669 4594, e-mail:

Dr Bill Downey, Assistant Director (Executive and International Affairs),
tel: (03) 9669 4534, e-mail:

July 27 2000

Commonwealth of Australia