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China launched a new Earth observation satellite, Gaofen-6, on Saturday, mainly for use in agricultural research and disaster monitoring.
The Gaofen-6 was launched with a Long March-2D rocket at 12:13 pm from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Luojia-1, a scientific satellite, was blasted into space on the same rocket.
It was the 276th mission of the Long March rocket series.
Weighing 1,064 kilograms and with a designed life of eight years, Gaofen-6 has functions similar to those of Gaofen-1, but with better cameras. Its high-resolution images can cover a larger area, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said.
Gaofen-6 can observe chlorophyll and other nutritional content of crops, and help predict yields of corn, rice, soybeans, cotton, peanuts and other commodities, said Tong Xudong, chief engineer of the Gaofen satellite series.
Its data will also be applied in monitoring natural disasters such as droughts and floods, evaluating agricultural projects and surveying forest and wetland resources, Tong said.
Developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, it will orbit in a constellation array with other Gaofen satellites.
Since the Gaofen project began in 2010, China has had an increasingly clearer view of the planet.
Gaofen-2, sent into space in August 2014, is accurate to 0.8 meters in full color and can collect multispectral images of objects greater than 3.2 meters in length.
Gaofen-4, launched in late 2015, is China"s first geosynchronous orbit, high-definition optical imaging satellite.
Gaofen-3, launched in August 2016, is China"s first synthetic aperture, radar-imaging satellite.
Gaofen-5, launched in May, has improved spectral resolution.
The project has helped reduce China"s dependence on foreign remote-sensing satellite data.