In DepthEarth Science

CubeSat networks hasten shift to commercial weather data

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Science  14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 118-119
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6347.118

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Summary

Gathering the global atmospheric data that go into weather forecasts has long been the job of big, costly, government-run satellites. But on 14 July, the scheduled launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket could signal the shift toward a different model, in which some of the data come from swarms of small private satellites called CubeSats. Among the dozens of CubeSats on the rocket will be 11 tiny weather satellites—eight from Glasgow, U.K.–based Spire Global, and three from GeoOptics, based in Pasadena, California. They will boost the companies’ in-orbit constellations to 40 and four, respectively—giving them the chance to compete in a forthcoming pilot program, in which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will buy weather data from them to supplement the information obtained from the usual array of multibillion-dollar satellites.