• Kyodo

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Astronaut Koichi Wakata visited a NASA facility Wednesday to monitor the progress being made on a satellite network designed to monitor rain and snowfall worldwide.

The system being jointly developed by Japan and the United States.

Wakata, who became the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station earlier this year, viewed the operation of the Global Precipitation Measurement system at Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington.

“We had a landslide disaster caused by heavy rain in Hiroshima this year. I think Japanese technology can contribute to the protection of people’s life on Earth with eyes from space,” the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut told reporters.

Wakata was referring to the mudslides that left 73 dead and one missing in Kyushu last month.

Accompanied by NASA astronaut Richard Mastracchio, a coworker from the ISS, Wakata said, “Japan has become a reliable partner (with the U.S.) not only in the manned space flight but Earth observation.”

The system can observe most precipitation worldwide and updates its data every three hours, helping improve the accuracy of weather reports, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The system’s core observatory entered orbit this year following its launch aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket in February.

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