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Space-Based Solutions

Asian countries experience earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters on a regular basis. Mitigating their impact is becoming increasingly possible using space-based technologies.

Having had frequent natural disasters of its own, Japan has been cooperating with other nations that could benefit from its knowhow.

Space engineers are now using innovative technologies to counter the region's frequent natural disasters.

From May through November last year, huge fires raged through Indonesia's jungles.

The Indonesian Institute of Aeronautics and Space laboratory, or LAPAN, receives data from satellites. It used satellite measurements of ground surface temperatures to provide firefighters with the locations of the blazes.

Indonesia doesn't have its own earth observation satellites. So for disaster prevention, it uses data provided by those of Japan, the US and France.

LAPAN's Data and Technology Center Head Dedi Irwadi says "Indonesia covers vast areas of both land and sea. That makes satellites the quickest and most effective disaster prevention solution."

Development of data analysis techniques has even led to efforts to predict disasters.

If cloud temperatures observed by satellites are entered along with geological data, the screen will show locations at risk of flooding within 24 hours.

LAPAN's Disaster Mitigation Division Head Parwati Sofan says "Satellite data are applicable to early-warning alert systems. We want to further improve our skills to analyze such data."

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is one of the organizations supporting these programs. It co-hosted the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum in Indonesia.

The participants agreed to strengthen coordination with the disaster prevention agencies of each country to use satellite data for speedy disaster relief efforts.

Behind Japan's initiative in applying space-based solutions to disaster prevention is its ambition to export its advanced technologies.

JAXA's Satellite Applications Manager Michio Ito says "Asia is one of the world's most disaster-prone regions, and so could benefit from space-based monitoring. We want to help reduce damage there in coordination with anti-disaster organizations."

Joint efforts to minimize damage and save people's lives look likely to pick up speed in the future.

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