We all know that weather forecasts are pretty much hit or miss. But new technology promises to make predictions better than ever before.
In an announcement today, Bethesda, Maryland-based satellite developer PlanetiQ said it has begun testing a new satellite-based weather instrument with sensors designed to penetrate storm clouds and generate data that the company said will significantly improve weather forecasting. It should also improve climate monitoring, and do it all at less cost than existing satellite weather systems.
According to PlanetiQ, the new weather instrument, known as Pyxis, will monitor GPS signals in the atmosphere and, using a method called GPS Radio Occultation (GPS-RO), translate them into what it said will be precise measurements of global temperature, pressure, and water vapor. Those measurements are similar to what is gathered by weather balloons. But the company noted that, unlike balloons, Pyxis works on a global scale. And, it said, Pyxis is the only system of its size equipped with GPS-RO sensors and capable of routinely monitoring the lowest layers of the atmosphere–where severe weather forms.
PlanetiQ said that Pyxis will be incorporated into what it called its “microsatellite constellation” of 12 satellites, which will launch in 2016 and 2017 and eventually produce more than 8 million daily observations of temperature, pressure, and water vapor. That would be more than ten times the weather data currently being produced by GPS-RO sensors, which the company said has the highest impact on accuracy of weather forecasts for things like hurricanes, severe storms, and winter storms.
Pyxis could dramatically increase the amount of GPS-RO data available to forecasters, the company said.