UK firm in weather satellite deal

January 28, 2013
By

FORMOSAT-7 spacecraftThe satellites will be launched in batches

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 told BBC News.

The Cosmic project is a joint initiative between the National Space Organization (NSPO) of Taiwan and the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

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 low orbit to make these observations.

But this satellite series, collectively known as FORMOSAT-3, is beginning to fail and needs replacing.

SSTL, which has a worldwide reputation for manufacturing high-performance, low-cost spacecraft, has now been engaged to build this next generation – FORMOSAT-7.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21231598#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa The feed :

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