All six of Taiwan’s Formosat-7/COSMIC-2 satellites, which were launched to improve weather forecasting, have reached their mission orbits, the Ministry of Science and Technology said in a statement yesterday.
The satellites, launched by Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) to an orbit 720km from Earth in June 2019, have been gradually moved to their designated mission orbits of 540km to 550km over the past 18 months, the statement said, adding that the process was completed on Wednesday last week.
The project is a joint operation between the National Space Organization and the US’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve weather data collection in the tropics, the ministry said.
By moving into their mission orbits, the satellites can better cover the area 50 degrees north and south of the equator and make up for a lack of weather data there.
Data collected by the constellation of six satellites were first made available on a trial basis in December 2019, before being made public on March 7 last year, the ministry said, adding that the data have already helped improve the accuracy of weather forecasts by 10 to 11 percent.
According to the National Space Organization, the satellite constellation can “receive GPS signals from the United States and [Global Navigation Satellite System] signals from Russia,” and “by measuring radio occultation signals, atmospheric parameters such as humidity and the electron concentration of the ionosphere can be derived.”
It can collect 4,000 pieces of data per day, the ministry said.
This means forecasters can use the information to better predict the formation of typhoons and their movements, it said.
In addition to the Central Weather Bureau, and research teams at National Central University and National Cheng Kung University, research bodies under the NOAA and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, as well as meteorological organizations around the world are using data collected by Formosat-7, the ministry said.
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