The addition of microwave sounders to Tomorrow.io’s network will not delay the company’s plans to begin collecting weather data via satellite. The Boston-based business hopes to have a network in orbit by the end of 2024, collecting radar and microwave measurements.
Tomorrow.io revealed plans to incorporate microwave sensors into its own radar satellite fleet in March because “it would make everything better,” according to Rei Goffer, co-founder, and chief strategy officer of Tomorrow.io. “A combo constellation is preferable because the instruments are highly complementary.”
Tomorrow.io has been focusing on outfitting tiny satellites with storm-monitoring radars to enhance weather forecasts since its inception in 2016. The microwave sounders are going to initially be launched from different satellites. “We might contemplate marrying them because they own the road,” Goffer added. “It would just waste time and money while doing nothing to help us.”
The Global Precipitation Measurement Mission, co-funded by NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, highlighted the advantages of integrating a passive microwave sensor to collect data on atmospheric moisture and temperature with radars, that specialize in detecting precipitation at varying altitudes.
“We plan to take the same design of sounders and radars flying in concert, lower the size of the instruments, and multiply the number of devices,” Goffer added.
Tomorrow.io’s first two mini-fridge-sized satellites are being built by Astro Digital. Tomorrow.io has chosen a microwave sensor for its own constellation, but officials have refused to say which one.
“All I can tell is that it flew across space,” Goffer remarked. “Obviously, we’re making changes, but we’re not starting from scratch.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s continuous study of the commercial sources of operational satellite-centered microwave atmospheric sensor data as a component of the agency’s Commercial Weather Data Pilot emphasizes that microwave sounding is a key component of weather forecasts.
Microwave is continuously ranked first in terms of input to numerical weather models, according to Goffer. “We have the numerical weather model that we use. We understand the implications of this data for our hypothesis.”
Tomorrow.io is also a member of the Raytheon Intelligence & Space group which was awarded a $45 million deal by NOAA to design and develop the Earth Prediction Innovation Center project last year.
They’ve launched a novel commercial weather satellite constellation featuring radars and microwave sounders to enhance global forecasting capabilities. The company argues that its space program would democratize worldwide weather forecasting and allow businesses to plan for and reduce the effects of weather on their operations.