• Aboard Falcon Heavy: Six 'weather eyes' to close gap in weather, climate data

    By: Irene Sans

    Updated:

    Another big launch is on schedule to liftoff from Cape Canaveral Monday evening: Space Test Program-2 (STP-2). Space X founder Elon Musk has said this is the company's most challenging missions to date.

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    This launch could be described as the bus ride for multiple projects that will be making several deployments, in fact, 20 of them. Not only it is deploying multiple projects, but within these 20 deployments there will be 24 different spacecrafts in three different orbits. After launch, deployments will begin approximately 12 minutes after liftoff and end approximately 3 hours, 32 minutes after liftoff.

     

    Among the many project aboard Falcon Heavy is a series of six weather and climate microsatellites, known as Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate-2 (COSMIC-2). 

     

    This network of remote-sensing microsatellites is part of the COSMIC launch series. COSMIC-1 was first launched in April 2006 from Vandenberg AFB in California, and the six satellites are coming expected to end their satellite life at some point this year.

     

    These low orbiting satellites, about 500 miles above the Earth’s surface, circle the equator at about 17,000 miles per hour. Their mission is to close the gaps left by global positioning system satellites. GPS satellite signals, although constantly being sent down to Earth, are distorted by the changes in density of the Earth’s atmosphere with height. The COSMIC satellites can detect and continue taking measurements of the Earth’s atmosphere, including temperatures, pressure, density and water vapor, during a span of three minutes before the signal gets cut off. This three-minute "loss of signal" is known as radio occultation.

     


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    After the launch, the rocket’s center core will attempt to land on a drone ship on the Atlantic and

    Having more real-time data allow meteorologists to make a more accurate forecast. More real-time data improves model forecasts. The data provided by these satellites will also allow to monitor climate in regions where there are large data gaps, such as the ocean. Information provided by COSMIC-2 will also be used in space weather research. 

     

     

     

     

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