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Satellites to track Fukushima, Chernobyl effects

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Tokyo, June 19 (IANS/EFE) Two Japanese satellites will be launched in space Friday to track the environmental effects of the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disasters.

The two satellites developed by the Kyoto University will be launched by a Ukranian rocket, Dnepr, from a Russian space centre in the Ural region.

The devices will regularly take pictures of the nuclear centres and their surrounding areas and would receive data from instruments set up near the stations, project officers told the news agency Kyodo.

They will also keep track of the level of rivers in order to prevent floods and this information will be sent to 22 countries, including Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Bangladesh.

Kyoto University has created the two satellites with less than 300 million yen (over $2.9 million) for each and this, according to the creators, is a fundamental step in Japan's effort to carry out a low-cost space programme.

The two satellites are Hodoyoshi-3, which is 50-by-70 cm and weighs 56.5 kg, and Hodoyoshi-4, which is a little bigger and weighs 63.7 kg.

The Ukrainian rocket Dnepr, 34.3 metres high and with a diameter of 3 metres, was made originally as a ballistic missile called SS-18 and has been re-utilised as a spatial vehicle.

This project between Ukraine and Japan was launched in 2013 but had to be put off due to tensions between Kiev and Moscow, which has been denied by the project officers.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered serious damages during the March 2011 earthquake and the tsunami, causing history's worst atomic crisis after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.

--IANS/EFE

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