Space Weather Observations by GNSS Radio Occultation: From FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC to FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2

Space Weather. 2014 Nov;12(11):616-621. doi: 10.1002/2014SW001133. Epub 2014 Nov 6.


The joint Taiwan-United States FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate) mission, hereafter called COSMIC, is the first satellite constellation dedicated to remotely sense Earth's atmosphere and ionosphere using a technique called Global Positioning System (GPS) radio occultation (RO). The occultations yield abundant information about neutral atmospheric temperature and moisture as well as space weather estimates of slant total electron content, electron density profiles, and an amplitude scintillation index, S4. With the success of COSMIC, the United States and Taiwan are moving forward with a follow-on RO mission named FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2 (COSMIC-2), which will ultimately place 12 satellites in orbit with two launches in 2016 and 2019. COSMIC-2 satellites will carry an advanced Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) RO receiver that will track both GPS and Russian Global Navigation Satellite System signals, with capability for eventually tracking other GNSS signals from the Chinese BeiDou and European Galileo system, as well as secondary space weather payloads to measure low-latitude plasma drifts and scintillation at multiple frequencies. COSMIC-2 will provide 4-6 times (10-15X in the low latitudes) the number of atmospheric and ionospheric observations that were tracked with COSMIC and will also improve the quality of the observations. In this article we focus on COSMIC/COSMIC-2 measurements of key ionospheric parameters.

Keywords: GNSS; ionosphere; radio occultation.