Weather satellite startup will launch on Indian rocket

Weather satellite startup will launch on Indian rocket

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – A Colorado-based startup developing a satellite network to predict weather using radio signals will launch its first two spacecraft on an Indian rocket, the company said on Thursday.

Privately owned PlanetiQ signed a contract with Antrix Corp Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, to launch the pair of satellites in late 2016.

p> Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

PlanetiQ plans to build & operate a constellation of 12 miniature satellites that monitor GPS & other navigational radio signals passing through Earth’s atmosphere.

The signals alter as they travel through different temperatures, pressures & levels of humidity, & the data can be incorporated into computer programs that predict local & regional weather & monitor changes in the global climate.

PlanetiQ is among a handful of companies looking to exploit a growing demand for weather data for commercial & government use. With the 12 satellites in orbit, PlanetiQ expects to measure the atmosphere approximately 34,000 times a day worldwide at altitudes between 650 feet (200 meters) above ground all the way into the ionosphere.

In  2013, agrochemical company Monsanto paid nearly $1 billion for the Climate Corporation, which produces apps of field-level weather, soil & crop data.

Planet iQ's satellites will be positioned approximately 497 miles (800 km) above the planet & inclined approximately 98 degrees relative north & south of the equator. From that vantage point, PlanetiQ satellites will track radio signals from the U.S. Global Positioning System, Russia’s Glasnoss, China’s BeiDou & Europe’s Galileo satellites as they pass through the atmosphere.

“The data is similar to that collected by weather balloons, yet more accurate, more frequent & on a global scale,” PlanetiQ said. The remaining 10 satellites are expected to fly in 2017.

“We are considering all secondary launch opportunities, though (we) are looking at only polar orbits now with higher altitudes preferred,” PlanetiQ Chief Executive Chris McCormick wrote in an email to Reuters.

GeoOptics & Spire are two other startups planning to build & operate fleets of low-orbiting satellites equipped with so-called GPS radio occultation sensors. Tempus Global Data & HySpecIQ intend to fly a different type technology, called hyperspectral imaging, to collect similar atmospheric data.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz)

Science

Source: “Reuters”

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