GCOM stands for Global Change Observation Mission. This mission aims to conduct global observations of the Earth's environmental changes from space.
Recently, climate changes on Earth are becoming more noticeable. In some years, there is a shortage of snow due to warm winter weather, while in another winter there are heavy snowfalls. There are years with many typhoons and others with few. We have years with severe flood damage caused by heavy local downpours, on the contrary, have years with shortage of the water supply due to the small amount of rain.
The 4th report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that global warming is certainly advancing.
The indications of climate change can not be grasped through shot term observations, so it is important to observe constantly over a long term. The GCOM consists of the GCOM-W, to observe water cycle changes within a set region of radio wave frequencies, and the GCOM-C, to observe climate changes within a region of wavelengths varying from infrared rays to optical/near-ultraviolet rays. Therefore they both will monitor the Earth using a wide range of wave frequencies. In addition, by launching two types of satellites, the GCOM-W and GCOM-C, over three generations, we plan to perform long continuous observations for more than 10 years.
This mission is something like performing a constant health check on the Earth's surface from space. At the moment, the mission is at a level where we can only examine the parameters like "blood pressure" and "blood sugar levels," but not at a level to diagnose what kind of "disease" is infecting the Earth. Yet in the future, it will become possible for us to predict the symptoms, or improve them, through accumulating data over a long period and continue steady research such as comparing actual data on the ground. We also believe that we can provide the policymakers with data to help prevent and improve the environmental degradation of the Earth.
As the GCOM-W1 is the pioneer satellite of the GCOM series, we are striving to achieve a successful mission.