PlanetiQ was formed to build, launch and operate the first commercial constellation of weather satellites, with an initial set of 12 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to be deployed by 2018, expanding to 18 satellites by 2020.

Consistent with our mission to bring innovation to satellite weather observations, PlanetiQ’s satellites will carry the fourth-generation “Pyxis” radio occultation (RO) sensor. Pyxis builds on the heritage of the gold standard for RO sensors. The PlanetiQ team has developed and built the previous three generations of RO sensors proven on orbit, including 20 flight units for prior, current and upcoming satellite missions.

This state-of-the-art, next-generation RO sensor is smaller, lighter, and consumes less power than prior versions, but has nearly 3x the data collection capability since it will receive signals from all four major GNSS constellations (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou). Pyxis is the only GPS-RO sensor in such a small package that is powerful enough to provide more than 10 times the amount of data available from GPS-RO sensors currently on orbit, and to routinely probe down into the lowest layers of the atmosphere where severe weather occurs.

With 12 satellites on orbit PlanetiQ will collect over 30,000 soundings/day evenly distributed around the globe, which equates to 8 million data points per day, easily making GPS-RO the most important contributor to forecast accuracy. That number will grow to nearly 50,000 soundings/day with 18 satellites on orbit, enabling unprecedented improvements in weather forecasting, space weather prediction and climate analytics.

Data starting with satellites 5-12 will be delivered to users in near real-time—with an average latency of less than 3 minutes—using an existing satellite-based relay system in Geostationary Earth Orbit. This low latency is a dramatic improvement over traditional delivery times and critical to evolving weather and space weather forecasting requirements.

Future instruments planned for PlanetiQ satellites 13-18 include the Active Temperature, Ozone and Moisture Microwave Spectrometer (ATOMMS) and a next-generation microwave radiometer.

ATOMMS, currently funded by the National Science Foundation, will use centimeter and millimeter wavelengths to simultaneously profile temperature, pressure, and water vapor versus altitude. ATOMMS will measure water vapor far more accurately than current sensors, yielding 1% or better accuracy from the lower troposphere into the mesosphere.

Related: GPS-RO 101