Hi-tech satellite helps Chinese discover huge marijuana plantation

World Today

China launched its second high-definition earth observation satellite, Gaofen 2, only last week. (Photo: XInhua)

Chinese police used a new advanced satellite to uncover the biggest illegal marijuana plantation in the country in recent history.

The Ministry of Public Security found the illegal plantation in an area of Jilin and Inner Mongolia by analyzing images taken by Gaofen 1, a high-definition earth observation satellite launched last year. The satellite carries some of China’s most sensitive sensors, according to China’s National Space Administration .

While the actual size of the plantation was not revealed, it was rated the biggest known marijuana farm since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The ministry also used data from the Gaofen 1 satellite to crack down on other illegal activities, including plantations of opium poppies in Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia and Hebei; about 10 secret passageways used by people to illegally cross China’s border in the Xinjiang Autonomous region, and also the border with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and a large offshore oil smuggling warehouse in Fujian.

Images taken by the hi-tech satellite provided “important informational support” to relevant departments at the ministry during their law enforcement duties, the space authority said.

The Gaofen-1 satellite can identify objects as small as two meters in length. It is part of a seven-satellite network, which will be fully operational by 2016, and provide global coverage.

Last Tuesday, China launched Gaofen-2, which will be able to provide even higher resolution images and identify objects no larger than one meter in length. One Gaofen satellite will be able to provide images of a whole planet in about four hours.

Gaofen-2 launch

Gaofen-2 launch from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center

Gaofen-2 launch from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center

Last Tuesday, China launched Gaofen 2, which will be able to provide even higher resolution images and identify objects no larger than one meter in length. One Gaofen satellite will be able to provide images of a whole planet in about four hours.

Report compiled with information from the South China Morning Post