Subject: Info: Blue Whale research

Michael Williamson (whe_william)
Mon, 23 Oct 1995 19:29:12

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From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Info: Blue Whale research
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Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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From:         Alan Macnow <>
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
        FROM: Alan Macnow
        Consultant, Japan Whaling Association
        The publication AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY this week reported
    that Japanese researchers will track the migratory patterns and assoc-
    iated ecological information from blue whales via a space satellite.
        The project, scheduled to begin with the launch of a polar orbiting
    space satellite in 1997, is part of a program undertaken by the
    International Whaling Commission designed to collect data which
    will assist in the recovery of the depleted Antarctic blue whale
        The $2-million ecological project is under development by NEC Corp.
    and Japan's Chiba Institute of Technology.  It was was presented at the
    recent International Astronautical Federation (IAF) congress in Oslo.
        Blue whales can reach 100 ft. in length and weigh 130 metric tons.
    They are the largest animals on Earth.  But almost nothing is known
    about their migratory patterns, current population numbers, and day
    to day habits.  The satellite information collection system will use
    sensors attached to 50-100 blue whales to gather needed data.
        Data from the sensor system will be transmitted to a 50-kg.  (110-lb.)
    Whale Ecology Observation Satellite (WEOS) that will be launched into
    polar orbit as a piggyback payload on a Japanese H-2 or Chinese Long
    March missile.
        The system is being designed to transmit from a whale's back for 2-3
    years, long enough to obtain data across a full migratory cycle, ac-
    cording to Dr.  Tomonao Hayashi, a researcher at the Chiba Institute
    and professor emeritus at ISAS, Japan's space science agency.  He pre-
    sented the plan along with another project official, Takeshi Orii, who
    heads NEC's Space Systems Development Div.
        According to the magazine reporting on the technology, one unusual
    aspect of the project is the way the satellite system on
    the whales will generate electrical power for 2-3 years.  A kinetic
    power generation system developed by the Seiko Epsom watch company will
    be used in the unit.  The swimming motion of the whale will continually
    cycle a mechanical system that will charge a battery to power the 5-w.
    satellite receiver/transmitter system.  The system is similar to that
    used on Seiko's self-winding wristwatches.
        As the whale swims, its attached system will periodically record the
    physiological parameters of the animal and other information such as
    the water temperature.
        When the whale comes to the surface to breathe, a pressure sensor will
    tell the system that it is on the surface and thus able to communicate
    with U.S.  Air Force GPS satellites and its Japanese relay satellite.
        The system will automatically calculate the whale's position
    by acquiring data from two or three GPS spacecraft and then transmit the
    location and other data to the Japanese Whale Ecology spacecraft when
    it flies overhead.
        On each orbit the satellite will obtain data from numerous whales
    swimming under its ground track.  The spacecraft will be commanded dai-
    ly to dump its recorded data when it flies over a Japanese ground sta-