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Spire Global is expanding cubesat constellation to offer persistent global view
10 January 2018
Spire Global, the San Francisco-based company that operates 48 GPS radio occultation cubesats, could provide a persistent view of about 97 percent of Earth with a constellation of 150 satellites, said Alexander "Sandy" MacDonald, Spire's global validation model director.
Spire is not alone in seeing the value of GPS radio occultation. NOAA and Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology are preparing to launch six Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) 2A satellites this year on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. GeoOptics of Pasadena, California, is another startup working to establish a constellation of GPS radio occultation satellites.
A constellation of 100 to 200 radio occultation satellites, which provide detailed observations of atmospheric temperature and moisture, could be used in conjunction with geostationary weather satellites like NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16 to dramatically improve the accuracy and spatial resolution of global weather prediction models, Spire's global validation model director, MacDonald said.
Image credit: Spire Global - Spire engineer Shaina Johl runs tests on a Spire cubesat, the NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 qualification model, prior to its June 2017 launch from Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft.