Meteorological Satellite Center (MSC)

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Dissemination via communication satellite: the HimawariCast service


  • HimawariCast Newsletter No.2 is now available. (8 November 2016) New!
  • How to configure SATAID version 3.1 for accurate calculation of cloud top height above 150 hPa. See Software for processing and displaying received data. (21 September 2016) New!
  • JCSAT-2B communications will be affected by sun interference during the 2016 autumn equinox season. See Sun interference. (18 August 2016)
  • JMA has upgraded its SATAID software with new functionality that allows RGB composite image display. See Software for processing and displaying received data. (6 June 2016)
  • The switchover from the JCSAT-2A communication satellite to its successor, JCSAT-2B is scheduled to take place between 03:00 UTC on 6 July and 03:00 UTC on 20 July. HimawariCast users will need to adjust their low-noise converter (LNB) settings. (18 May 2016)
  • More News...

HimawariCast Newsletter

Operation Information

Weekly operation schedule (MANAM)

Sun interference

The sun passes behind the JCSAT-2B communication satellite (C-band) as seen from its receiving station once a day during the equinox season. When this happens, radiation from the sun can cause loss or degradation of communications between the satellite and the receiving station. This phenomenon is referred to as sun interference, and can adversely affect or interrupt transmission.
See Sun Interference Prediction (external link) for details.


MTSAT-2 imagery distribution services for L-band frequency High-Rate Information Transmission (HRIT) and Low-Rate Information Transmission (LRIT) via MTSAT-1R was discontinued on 4 December 2015. As a replacement of these services, JMA started the HimawariCast service which disseminates primary sets of imagery via a communication satellite from January 2015.

The interval between full-disk observations by Himawari-8 is 10 minutes, which is much shorter than the 30/60 minutes of the MTSAT series. The HimawariCast service provides full-disk imagery with this high 10-minute observation frequency.


Figure 1 shows the schedule for transition from MTSAT HRIT/LRIT services to the HimawariCast service.

JMA successfully launched Himawari-8 in October 2014 and switched over operations from MTSAT-2 at 02:00 UTC on 7 July 2015. Himawari-8 imagery dissemination began at 02:00 UTC on 3 July 2015 before the satellite officially became operational.

The JCSAT-2A communication satellite located at 154 degrees east is used to broadcast data for the HimawariCast service. The JCSAT-2B unit will then take over from JCSAT-2A as the communication satellite at the same location. HimawariCast users shuld complete the necessary preparations for the switchover from JCSAT-2A to JCSAT-2B during the dual-operation period from 03:00 UTC on 6 July to 03:00 UTC on 20 July 2016.

Schedule for transition to the HimawariCast service
Figure 1: Schedule for transition to the HimawariCast service (click to enlarge)


Table 1 shows the dataset of the HimawariCast service.

Himawari imagery in full-disk HRIT/LRIT files compatible with MTSAT HRIT/LRIT data* is provided via the service. Files are disseminated every 10 minutes in principle, but this interval will follow the MTSAT-2 observation schedule while MTSAT-2 is in operation. The number of bands of MTSAT-2 HRIT files is 5 out of 5, and that of Himawari-8 HRIT files is 14 out of 16. Additionally, 1 band of high-spatial-resolution and high-bit-rate Himawari-8 infrared imagery is disseminated at night.

In addition, numerical weather prediction (NWP) products (GPV: Grid Point Values) and meteorological observation data other than Himawari imagery in SATAID format are disseminated. Satellite Animation and Interactive Diagnosis (SATAID) visualization software for satellite imagery enables the superimposition of various meteorological data and products, such as NWP, in-situ observation data and ASCAT output, onto satellite imagery.

Please see the links for details.

Table 1: The data set disseminated via HimawariCast
Data type Format Notes
* There is a slight difference between files disseminated via the MTSAT HRIT/LRIT services and those disseminated via the HimawariCast service. The former consist of lossless-compressed raw data and related headers. The latter are made up of non-compressed raw data and related headers, and the whole files are compressed using bzip2. See the links for details (HRIT, LRIT).

** Parallel bzip2 (pbzip2) commands are used for bzip2 compression.
Himawari imagery

(full disk)
HRIT files

(Divided into 10 segments and compressed using bzip2**)

(Compatible with the MTSAT HRIT service*)
  • Interval: 10 minutes
    (MTSAT-2 observation schedule followed while MTSAT-2 is in operation)
  • Number of bands: 14
    (5 while MTSAT-2 is in operation)
  • Spatial resolution: band-dependent
  • Sample data
LRIT files

(Divided into 10 segments and compressed using bzip2**)

(Compatible with the MTSAT LRIT service*)
  • Interval: 10 minutes
    (MTSAT-2 observation schedule followed while MTSAT-2 is in operation)
  • Number of bands: 4 (VIS, IR1, IR3, IR4)
  • Spatial resolution: 5 km
  • Sample data
Numerical weather prediction products (GPV) SATAID format

(Compressed using bzip2**)
  • JMA Global Spectral Model (GSM) products (48-hour forecast)
  • Interval: 6 hours
  • Spatial resolution: 1.25 degrees
In-situ observations

SATAID format

(Archived using tar and compressed using bzip2**)
  • Observational data for East Asia and Western Pacific regions
  • Interval: 30 minutes
ASCAT ocean surface wind

SATAID format

(Archived using tar and compressed using bzip2**)
  • Observational data from EUMETSAT's Metop polar-orbiting satellites
  • Interval: 30 minutes
Operation plan

  • Frequency: twice a day

System structure

Figure 2 shows an overview of the HimawariCast system structure.

HimawariCast system structure
Figure 2: HimawariCast system structure (click to enlarge)

Specifications of receiving equipment

Please see this page for specification of receiving equipment


While registration is not required to use the HimawariCast service, registered users can receive service information and updates by e-mail from JMA. Users wishing to register should submit the form below by e-mail, post or fax.


    Satellite Program Division, Observation Department
    Japan Meteorological Agency
    1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan
    Tel.: +81-3-3212-8341 (ext. 4842)
    Fax: +81-3-3217-1036