The history of meteorological satellites at JMA

GMS (Geostationary Metrological satellite) series

The Geostationary Meteorological Satellite (GMS) series is operated by JMA as part of the Global System of Meteorological Satellites. The first GMS was launched in July 1977, and operational provision of meteorological products created with data from the satellite was commenced on April 6 1978. Its successors, referred to as GMS-2, 3, 4 and 5, were launched in August 1981, August 1984, September 1989 and March 1995, respectively.

GMS (Himawari) Launch date: 14 June 1977
Retirement: June 1989
Launch site: Cape Canaveral
GMS-2 (Himawari-2) Launch date: 11 August 1981
Retirement: November 1987
Launch site: Tanegashima
GMS-3 (Himawari-3) Launch date: 3 August 1984
Retirement: June 1995
Launch site: Tanegashima
GMS-4 (Himawari-4) Launch date: 6 September 1989
Retirement: February 2000
Launch site: Tanegashima
GMS-5 (Himawari-5) Launch date: 18 March 1995
Retirement: July 2005
Launch site: Tanegashima

GMS-series images courtesy of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

MTSAT (Multi-functional Transport Satellite) series

The Multi-functional Transport Satellite (MTSAT) series fulfilled a meteorological function for JMAand an aviation control function for the Civil Aviation Bureau (CAB) of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourisum(MLIT). The MTSAT series succeeded the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite (GMS) series covering East Asia and the Western Pacific. MTSAT-1R and MTSAT-2 meteorological services were discontinued on 23 December 2015 and 10 March 2017, respectively.

MTSAT-1R and MTSAT-2 meteorological services ended on 23 December 2015 and 10 March 2017, respectively.

MTSAT-1 Launch date: 15 November 1999
(Launch failure)
MTSAT-1R (Himawari-6) Launch date: 26 February 2005
Retirement: December 2015
Launch site: Tanegashima
MTSAT-2 (Himawari-7) Launch date: 18 February 2006
Retirement: March 2017
(Meteorological Mission)
Launch site: Tanegashima


Both of JMA's Himawari-8/9 geostationary meteorological satellites (the successors to the MTSAT series) are equipped with highly improved Advanced Himawari Imagers (AHIs). JMA aims to establish a stable and continuous satellite observation system with redundancy based on twin satellite operation involving Himawari-8 and -9, which is expected to contribute to disaster risk reduction in Asia and the western Pacific until 2029.

Himawari-8 Launch date: 7 October 2014
Himawari-9 Launch date: 2 November 2016

Channel improvement

GMS GMS-2 GMS-3 GMS-4 GMS-5 MTSAT-1R MTSAT-2 Himawari-8 Himawari-9
Visible (0.50-0.70 μm) Visible (0.55-0.90 μm) Visible (0.47 μm)
Visible (0.51 μm)
Visible (0.64 μm)
Near Infrared (0.86 μm)
Near Infrared (1.6 μm)
Near Infrared (2.3 μm)
IR4 (3.5-4.0 μm) IR (3.9 μm)
IR (6.2 μm)
IR (6.9 μm)
IR (7.3 μm)
IR (8.6 μm)
IR (9.6 μm)
IR (10.4 μm)
IR (11.2 μm)
IR (12.4 μm)
IR (13.3 μm)
IR3 (6.5-7.0 μm)
(Water vapor)
IR (Infrared)
(10.5-12.5 μm)
(10.5-11.5 μm)
(10.3-11.3 μm)
IR2 (11.5-12.5 μm)

Japanese Geostationary Meteorological Satellite Development

JMA satellite history