Mission results from FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC constellation system

Chen Joe Fong, Cheng Yung Huang, Vicky Chu, Nick Yen, Ying Hwa Kuo, Yuei An Liou, Sien Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC spacecraft constellation consisting of six low-Earth-orbit satellites is the world's first operational Global Positioning System radio occultation mission. Its mission is jointly developed by Taiwan's National Space Organization and the United States's University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Naval Research Laboratory for the three onboard payloads, which include the Global Positioning System occultation receiver, the triband beacon, and the tiny ionospheric photometer. The FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC mission was launched successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 15 April 2006 into the same orbit plane of the designated 516 km circular parking orbit altitude. All six FORMOS AT-3/COSMIC satellites are maintained in a good state of health except spacecraft flight model 2, which has a power shortage, and flight model 3, currently staying at an orbit of 711 km due to a mechanism problem to be solved, and are on their way toward the final constellation of six separate orbit planes with 30 deg separations as planned. Five out of six satellites have reached their final mission orbit of 800 km as of November 2007. The FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC has processed over 1800 good atmospheric sounding profiles per day on average, which is larger than the number of worldwide radiosondes launched per day (∼900, mostly above the land). The atmospheric radio occultation sounding data are assimilated into the numerical weather prediction models for real-time weather prediction and typhoon/hurricane forecast. The global and some major nations' weather prediction centers have shown a significant positive impact and the forecast result will be also adapted to Taiwan's disaster warning and relief system once constellation deployment is completed by the end of 2007. With the invention of the open-loop technique by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the quality, accuracy, and lowest penetration altitude of the radio occultation sounding profiles are better than CHAMP data. This paper also describes the mission highlight, the constellation spacecraft system performance summary, the constellation mission operation result, and the mission science results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1293-1302
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2008


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