Tuesday, September 10, 2019

One company’s plan to forecast extreme weather

Hurricane Dorian, as seen from the International Space Station on Sept. 2, 2019. 
Spire uses radio occultation profiles to attempt to augment the accuracy of weather forecasts.NASA

From Forbes by Elizabeth Howell

As the Atlantic region deals with the effects and aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, space-to-cloud-analytics company Spire Global outlined its work to increase the accuracy of weather and climate forecasts.

Extreme weather is becoming more frequent as the Earth warms, providing more fuel for hurricanes, flooding and other phenomena that threaten infrastructure and ecosystems.
Spire announced it is collecting 5,000 radio occultation profiles daily in an effort to predict when and where such events occur.

Kleos Space is preparing to launch four cubesats to fly in formation and geolocate radio frequency signals.

The technology of radio occultation is a way of remote sensing that can measure the physical properties of the atmosphere.
Spire's daily mark of 5,000 profiles triples the amount of this kind of data available worldwide, the company said.
Notably, Spire's satellites use signals from the European Union's space-based Galileo navigation system to enhance their predictions.

A visualization of Spire Global's Weather Model

“I believe this to be a milestone not just for Spire and the global weather enterprise, but for New Space,” said CEO Peter Platzer in an exclusive statement, referring to the rise of private space companies that provide commercial products for customers.
(Traditionally, space used to be only accessible by governments.)

“Here is a type of data that is well known for its accuracy and value to a global public safety concern, weather, one that is increasing of daily importance when talking about extreme weather events like hurricanes. Spire, as a New Space company, is contributing a higher quantity of this data, providing crucial data of exceptional new quality,” he added.

Spire provides a worldview for ship and aircraft tracking when AIS is switched off

The San Francisco-based company is also known for monitoring the movements of maritime vessels from space, and in this area they have been generating a number of agreements in 2019.
In the last few months, Spire announced it would create a "data lake" with the Luxembourg Space Agency (allowing participants to use raw data from Spire satellites) and it also announced an agreement with Luxembourg-based data-as-a-service company Kleos Space S.A.

The company has more than 100 small satellites in orbit that collect data in radio wavelengths.
The privately held firm discloses its revenues in part, saying that revenues are in the eight-figure range and growing year-over-year in triple digits.
Spire was founded in 2013 and subsequently received Series A, B and C funding rounds.

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