In DepthWeather Forecasting

CubeSats promise to fill weather data gap

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Science  11 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6266, pp. 1302-1303
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6266.1302

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The massive, expensive satellites operated by national weather agencies are facing swarms of tiny competitors launched by private companies. Data from the shoebox-sized satellites, exploiting a technique for probing the atmosphere, could significantly reduce forecast errors. But the agencies, used to generating their own data, have so far been reluctant customers because of fears that the free and open sharing of data would be compromised. Nevertheless, companies have charged ahead with the technique, which relies on small satellites to monitor GPS radio signals as they skim through the atmosphere. One company, Spire, is now receiving data from four satellites, and plans to launch dozens more in 2016. Another company, PlanetiQ, has booked a launch for its first satellites in 2016.