Sun, Aug 13, 2006 - Page 2 News List

FORMOSAT-3 commences sending weather updates


Taiwan's recently launched satellite, FORMOSAT-3, has begun sending weather data, as the first microsatellite of the constellation settled in its designated orbital plane, a senior official of the FORMOSAT-3 Program Office said yesterday.

Yen Lung-cheng (顏隆政), a director of the program, said that at present, FORMOSAT-3 is only able to collect and transmit 700 entries of atmospheric data and 2,500 entries of ionospheric data per day. However, when all six microsatellites are in position, the satellite constellation will reach its full capacity of sending 2,500 entries each on atmospheric data and ionospheric data per day.

FORMOSAT-3, an atmosphere observing constellation of six microsatellites, lifted off in California on April 15 and reached its initial parking orbit of 500km above ground.

The six microsatellites will gradually move into position on their orbital planes at 800km above ground by the middle of next year, with the first of the six microsatellites already having done so on July 19.

According to the program administrator, the other five microsatellites are still in "parking orbit" at an altitude of around 500km to 550km and waiting to lift to the final orbits to carry out their five-year weather observation mission.

FORMOSAT-3 is the country's third satellite project, following the launch of FORMOSAT-1 in 1999 and FORMOSAT-2 in 2004. FORMOSAT-3 -- also known as the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate -- is a collaborative project between Taiwan's National Space Organization and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in the US.

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