FormoSat-7 contributing to better weather forecasting: NARLabs

09/04/2020 08:43 PM
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A two-dimensional imagery pinpointing the locations to which the constellation of six satellites belonging to FormoSat-7 is capable of providing data to when orbiting in the ±50-degrees latitude. Photo courtesy of NARLabs.
A two-dimensional imagery pinpointing the locations to which the constellation of six satellites belonging to FormoSat-7 is capable of providing data to when orbiting in the ±50-degrees latitude. Photo courtesy of NARLabs.

Taipei, Sept. 4 (CNA) FormoSat-7, a constellation of satellites for space weather research, has made significant contributions to improving global numerical weather predictions, Taiwan's National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) said Friday.

In a statement, NARLabs cited Sean Healy, a senior scientist at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, as saying that data provided by FormoSat-7, also known as COSMIC-2, has greatly helped improve the accuracy of numerical weather forecasts at the center.

"In early 2020, radio occultation data helped reduce errors in 24-hour forecasts by about 4 percent. With the addition of COSMIC-2 and Spire Global data, radio occultation accounted for 13 or 14 percent of error reduction," Healy said during an Aug. 12 webinar titled "Spire Weather -- A Global Constellation Solution."

Also since March of this year, meteorologists have been seeing dramatic reductions in the amount of data provided by atmospheric sensors mounted on commercial aircraft, after the global airline industry came to a grinding halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help offset the loss of data captured by commercial aircraft, the European research institute began assimilating GNSS radio occultation (GNSS-RO) measurements from the FormoSat-7 mission on March 25, according to a newsletter published by ECMWF in April.

Lin Chun-liang (林俊良), director-general of the National Space Organization (NSPO), said that since it began providing data on the Global Telecommunication System in March, FormoSat-7 has been able to provide at least 4,000 radio occultation measurements per day.

Radio occultation involves the sending of signals from one satellite to another and then measuring how those signals are distorted to determine meteorological conditions in the Earth's atmosphere and ionosphere.

Even if the satellite encounters an abnormality, Lin said his team is able to resolve problems quickly in order to maintain the transmission of stable data.

A joint project between Taiwan and the United States, FormoSat-7 is a constellation of six satellites launched in June 2019 that provides data for meteorology, ionosphere, climatology, and space weather research.

(By Su Ssu-yun and Ko Lin)

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