The first data users’ workshop for the Taiwan-US weather satellite constellation Formosat-7/COSMIC2 opened virtually yesterday, hosted by the Hsinchu Science Park-based National Space Organization (NSPO).
The three-day event, also called the 5th International Conference on GPS Radio Occultation, has drawn 285 participants from 33 nations, including US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Neil Jacobs.
The six-satellite constellation was launched in June last year, and opened its data to public use in March.
The NSPO received 68 research papers for the workshop, highlighting findings about the atmosphere, space weather and ionospheric changes, Formosat-7 project head in Taiwan Vicky Chu (朱崇惠) said at the opening ceremony at NSPO headquarters,.
The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) in July started analyzing the data transmitted by Formosat-7 and found it helpful for improving forecasts for tropical areas, Chu said.
CWB’s analysis showed that the precision of temperature forecasts 6km from the ground in tropical areas within five days has improved 4 percent, she said.
While the NSPO has said that Formosat-7 data would improve weather forecast by 10 percent, that estimate was based on simulation models, and the levels of improvement would vary among different statistical bases, CWB Deputy Director-General Mark Cheng (程家平) said.
Workshop participants are also marking the decommissioning of the Formosat-7’s predecessor, the Formosat-3/COSMIC constellation, which was launched in 2006.
Designed to last five years, it was used for 14 years until its formal decommissioning on May 1.
The forum had been scheduled for May, but was postponed and changed into a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant that Jacobs had to cancel his plans to visit Taiwan.
Addressing yesterday’s opening, Jacobs said that the wide use of radio occultation (RO) by weather prediction centers worldwide was largely due to the successful demonstration of the technology achieved in the COSMIC-1/Formosat-3 program.
COSMIC-2/Formosat-7 features advanced technology and its data are being used by the US National Weather Service and other weather centers globally, he said.
“These data provided a powerful new resource to address the current Atlantic hurricane season,” he said. “We highly value our partnership with NSPO and look forward to sharing the benefits of the advanced RO capabilities that COSMIC-2/FORMOSAT-7 brings.”
Formosat-3 had greatly elevated Taiwan’s status and brought about more collaboration opportunities, former National Science Council deputy minister Tsay Ching-yen (蔡清彥) said.
The NSPO also honored former directors, partner scientists and engineers for their contributions to the development of Formosat-3.
NSPO Director-General Lin Chun-liang (林俊良) presented a model of Formosat-3 for Jacobs to American Institute in Taiwan Science and Technology Officer Rhiannon Bramer.
Jacobs is also to deliver a keynote speech today.
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