FengYun-3A (FY-3A), the first satellite in the second generation of the Chinese polar-orbiting meteorological satellites, was launched at Taiyuan, China, launching center on 27 May 2008. Equipped with both sounding and imaging payloads, enabling more powerful observations than the first generation of the FY-1 series, FY-3A carries 11 instruments. Two of them are the same as those on FY-1C/D, while the others, whose spectral bands cover violet, visible, near-infrared, infrared, and microwave spectral regions, are all newly developed. FY-3A instruments can be used to detect and study weather, clouds, radiation, climate, atmosphere, land, ocean, and other environmental features. FY-3A check out took about 5 months following its launch; FY-3A has been operational since January 2009. The plan for the future FY-3 series is to operate two polar-orbiting spacecraft—one in the morning and the other in the afternoon orbit—with different payloads for each spacecraft. This orbit configuration will be further coordinated with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). One low-inclination orbit spacecraft is under consideration for radar and passive microwave precipitation measurement missions. Details are under discussion and yet to be determined. An overview of the first launch, FY-3A (the second generation of the Chinese meteorological satellites), and its imaging and sounding capabilities and potential applications are given in this paper.
National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
Observing and Information Systems Department, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland