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A U.S. weather satellite began transmitting photos Thursday of weather patterns over Japan and a large portion of the Western Pacific.

The images replace those of an ailing Japanese satellite.

The American GOES-9 satellite was repositioned and assumed weather-watching duties formerly fulfilled by Japan’s Himawari 5 weather satellite.

Launched in 1995, the Himawari satellite has encountered imaging and fuel problems, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The U.S. satellite will be used until images from a new replacement weather satellite — scheduled to be launched in January — can be taken sometime next March, Yasusuke Yoshinaga, a JMA official said.

“GOES-9 will help forecasters protect residents of Japan and other nations in the Pacific by providing the latest information on the storm’s movement,” NOAA’s administrator, retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, said in a news release posted to the NOAA Web site. “The movement of GOES-9 is an important step in developing mutual backup meteorological arrangements between the United States and Japan.”

Switching the weather satellites was costly for Japan.

It cost 900 million yen, or $7.7 million, for repositioning of the GOES-9 slightly west of its previous orbit, Yoshinaga said.

Satellite images produced by the GOES satellites are best known to television viewers as the cloud images broadcast on TV weather forecasts.

— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

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