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Swarm of Tiny Satellites to Improve Weather Forecasting

Want to know the weather for tomorrow? Chances are the weather data you need to determine the answer comes from the roughly 20 weather satellites that currently circling Earth's orbit. And as we all know, the data collected by these orbiting satellites are not always enough to produce a reliable weather forecast.

Enter Spire, a San Francisco-based startup that is currently working on a small, cheap, easily replaceable group of shoebox-sized satellites. Spire has announced this past week that it will launch a fleet of tiny satellites to collect an unprecedented amount of weather data. Spire says that it will have 20 satellites orbiting Earth by the end of this year. These satellites are so many that if one fails it doesn't take down the entire system, and replacements will be launched frequently. Working together, these swarm of tiny satellites will eventually provide 100 times more information than the much bigger, more expensive and difficult-to-replace satellites currently on Earth's orbit.

Spire’s tiny satellites will measure the humidity, temperature and pressure — the three main ingredients of weather forecasting. The company will use a variety of technologies such as sensors,antennas and infrared cameras, to get better data. It sensors are attached to satellites designed to only last a few years.

Spire is among a growing number of startups to that is working on large constellations of satellites. Many of space's new players, such as Planet Labs, have been focusing on imaging technology. Big players like Elon Musk's SpaceX and search giant Google are looking at satellite-based internet systems. Spire is the first company to name weather forecasting as a major part of its business plan. 

Building tiny satellites is no longer new, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Program Agency) have been working for years and already spent million of dollars on a program known as “System F6”, whose main goal is to create clusters of satellites linked by wireless networks allowing them to share task such as communication relay, data processing, data storage and many more.

 

Image Credit: Space News

Erwin Castro

About Erwin Castro

I am a blogger, programmer, web developer, web writer and IT specialist, with a strong passion for AI, big data, cloud computing, networking and machines.

Erwin Castro

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