Press Esc to close
Wednesday 22 October 2014
News updated at 1:20 PM IST
Weather
Max: 0°C
Min : 0°C
In Bangalore
Sunny day
Breaking News

One more spacecraft to predict weather

Feb 5, 2013, NYT:

British satellite manufacturer SSTL will build the follow-on spacecraft for an innovative weather forecasting system run by Taiwan and the US. The COSMIC constellation derives information about the atmosphere from the way it disturbs GPS signals. A clutch of spacecraft currently provide this service, and SSTL has been contracted to provide up to 12 more satellites. The intention is to launch a new batch in 2016.

“It’s a great win for the company, beating off international competition, and it’s also a very interesting project,” said Alex da Silva Curiel from SSTL. “It involves operational meteorology, good climate science and ionospheric science,” he said.

The Cosmic project is a joint initiative between NSPO, the National Space Organisation of Taiwan, and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an American body. It relies on a smart observation technique known as radio occultation. This recognises that a transmission from a global positioning satellite, which ordinarily is used to plot a time and a position, will be bent as it passes through air.


The degree to which this refraction occurs is dependent on the properties of the atmosphere at that moment, and can be exploited to pull out information about temperature, pressure and water vapour — key parameters required in weather forecasting. NSPO/NOAA’s Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere & Climate (COSMIC) operates a series of small spacecraft in a low-earth orbit to make these observations. But this satellite series, referred to as FORMOSAT-3, is beginning to fail and needs replacing.

The satellite manufacturer has now been engaged to build the next generation – FORMOSAT-7. The multimillion-pound contract will see an initial six satellites launch in three years’ time. A further six could follow in 2018. Also, SSTL will assemble the chassis, or bus, of every spacecraft. The satellite manufacturer is basing the bus design on its “100 series” of earth observation spacecraft. These take the shape of a cube, but NSPO/NOAA’s desire to launch six satellites at the same time means the profile of the spacecraft will be more wedgelike to make them all fit on the one rocket. “We basically take the circular cross section of the launcher as seen from the top, and divide it by six. And that is the available shape for each spacecraft.

That makes for a long and thin shape,” explained da Silva Curiel. “We can still use the same electronics that we would normally use in a SSTL-100 series satellite, but the structure is a new structure.”
Each spacecraft will weigh just under 200 kg. The first batch would go into low-inclination orbits, to provide data of greatest value to Taiwan. The second set would be placed in high-inclination-angle orbits to retrieve information relevant to higher latitudes on the globe. FORMOSAT/COSMIC observations have proven very useful in medium-range forecasting – those projections that look several days ahead.
Jonathan Amos

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
A major fire that broke out in the crackers market in Faridabad...

A major fire that broke out in the crackers market in Faridabad...

On the eve of Diwali Renowned sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created a sand sculpture of Kali...

On the eve of Diwali Renowned sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created a sand sculpture of Kali...

Indian passengers rest on a crowded platform ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights...

Indian passengers rest on a crowded platform ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights...

Indian soccer player Peter Biaksangzuala, center, performs flips as he celebrates a goal...

Indian soccer player Peter Biaksangzuala, center, performs flips as he celebrates a goal...

Woman buying earthen lamps at a market ahead of the Diwali festival...

Woman buying earthen lamps at a market ahead of the Diwali festival...

School children paint their faces during Diwali celebrations...

School children paint their faces during Diwali celebrations...

A huge rangoli in front of Swaminarayan Temple...

A huge rangoli in front of Swaminarayan Temple...

Volunteers of Azad Hind taking out a procession to mark the Azad Hind Foundation Day...

Volunteers of Azad Hind taking out a procession to mark the Azad Hind Foundation Day...

Family members paying tribute to police martyrs during Police Commemoration Day...

Family members paying tribute to police martyrs during Police Commemoration Day...

TRS activists set affire chairs at the TDP office in Nalgonda...

TRS activists set affire chairs at the TDP office in Nalgonda...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bangalore - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523