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PlanetiQ's first satellite is scheduled to launch in March 2020 on a Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: PlanetiQ.

NOAA signals strong appetite for radio occultation

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeks to dramatically increase the supply of radio occultation soundings it feeds into weather forecast models.

NOAA currently obtains slightly more than 2,000 soundings daily from its own satellites and those of its international partners. The agency has a target of acquiring 20,000 soundings per day, Steve Volz, NOAA assistant administrator for satellite and information services, said at the American Meteorological Society’s conference here.

Part of the solution is likely to come from the second U.S.-Taiwan Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) constellation launched in July. The six-satellite COSMIC-2 constellation is currently producing about 4,000 daily soundings and is on track to meet its goal of producing 5,000 daily soundings, said Wei Xia-Serafino, NOAA COSMIC-2 program manager.

That would still leave NOAA far short of obtaining 20,000 daily soundings but the private sector is eager to make up the difference.

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