Japan has launched a new information-gathering satellite (IGS), called Optical-4, on H-2A (H-IIA) launch vehicle from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Centre.

The secret satellite, equipped with optical sensors, was built by Mitsubishi Electric and will circle the Earth in a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of more than 300 miles.

The IGS can distinguish objects on the ground with a resolution of 60cm from an altitude of around 500km.

The spacecraft is fitted with an optical camera and telescope to supply imagery to the Japanese Government for intelligence, defence and civilian remote sensing applications, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.