6.1 The Growing Role for Small Satellites in the Weather and Climate Observing System

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 1:30 PM
607 (Washington State Convention Center )
Alexander E. MacDonald, Spire Global, Inc., Boulder, CO; and P. Platzer

The importance of knowing the state of the Earth’s geophysical system has never been greater, due to human-caused climate change, and increased vulnerability to weather extremes. Very small and (relatively) inexpensive satellites offer a powerful new tool in Earth observing.  The ongoing revolution in electronic miniaturization make an astonishing array of sensors possible.  Their low cost and short cycle time allow rapid improvements in key capabilities.  Some examples of the possibilities include very sensitive Radio Occultation sensors on satellites the size of a half-gallon milk carton that could deliver up to 100,000 highly accurate temperature and moisture soundings per day over the Earth. The highly detailed soundings are unbiased and offer improved weather prediction and a matchless tool for detection of climate change fingerprints. There are small microwave, infrared and other sensors that could help augment the existing satellite constellation.  The detection of greenhouse gases, important for future greenhouse gas mitigation is another of many exciting possible uses of these versatile satellites.
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