BEELION-DOLLAR Japanese satellite gives BOM a data nerdgasm

Ten-minute snapshots of Earth yields a terabyte every three days

BOM satellite image

Australian weather nerds wanting to get up close and personal with the latest fronts and troughs can now gawp at high quality images online.

The nation’s Bureau of Meteorology has begun posting near-real time images from the the Himawari–8 satellite, which set the Japan Meteorological Agency back a cool A$1 billion.

According to the BoM it is the world’s most advanced dedicated weather satellite. BoM CEO Dr Rob Vertessy says: “You can see unfolding weather in detail we’ve only dreamed of in the past. But it’s more than just eye-candy for our forecasters”.

There’s whiff of hyperbole when Vertessy says the improvement over previous satellite images is like moving from black and white television to IMAX.

Even so, Himawari–8 sends 50 times more data than the previous satellite. Previously Australians got an hourly weather image, now they arrive once every ten minutes. Japanese weather fans get updates every 2.5 minutes.

The BOM has a viewer for the new satellite data here.

At full tilt, Himawari–8 can churn out images with 5,500 by 5,500 pixels. The image resolution has gone from a kilometre down to 500 metres and the satellite now covers 16 spectral bands instead of five. It is the first geostationary weather satellite to take true colour pictures.

All-in-all a terabyte of Himawari weather data showers down on the planet every three days.

The BOM's keenly anticipating the delivery of its petaflop Cray to fondle the Himawari data-set. ®

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