Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of PlanetiQ?

PlanetiQ aims to revolutionize our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere by providing the highest-quality, most cost-effective data for weather forecasting and climate monitoring. Their technology offers dense coverage from pole to pole, allowing for high accuracy regional and global forecasts.

What is PlanetiQ doing to support NOAA and why?

As of July 18, 2023, PlanetiQ has begun daily delivery to NOAA of their highest quality Signal to Noise Radio (SNR) GNSS-Radio Occultation data from its growing constellation of satellites. This will enable the creation of highly precise weather forecasting and atmospheric research that will save lives and improve our environment and economy. NOAA selected PlanetiQ as a supplier under NOAA’s IDIQ-2 Operational Delivery Order-2, funded for five years up to $59.6 million.

What makes PlanetiQ’s data more impactful?

PlanetiQ’s system can see through clouds and storms, penetrating to the Earth’s surface where we live and where weather matters the most. PlanetiQ has developed the world’s best weather sensor, called Pyxis. It’s a fourth-generation radio occultation (RO) sensor that is smaller, lighter, and consumes less power than prior versions, but has nearly 3x the data collection capability. It receives signals from all four world-wide GNSS constellations (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and Beidou). Pyxis is the only GNSS-RO sensor in such a small package that is powerful enough to provide more than double the amount of data available from the next-best GNSS-RO sensors currently on orbit, and to routinely probe down into the lowest layers of the atmosphere where severe weather occurs. PlanetiQ is the only system capable of profiling the thermodynamic state of the atmosphere with very high vertical resolution, precision and accuracy in all weather conditions – providing critical pole to pole coverage of both the atmosphere and ionosphere. Importantly, this also provides the unique ability to profile the water vapor down to the surface, 80% of which lies within 1km of the surface, fueling severe weather and flooding.

What’s the heritage of PlanetiQ’s technology?

The capability to derive pressure, temperature and water vapor from GNSS-RO was first made possible through the proof of concept GPS-MET mission, launched in 1995, and funded by the National Science Foundation. With that success, the next step was to determine the global forecast impact using GNSS-RO with the experimental COSMIC constellation from the National Space Program Office in Taiwan and UCAR in Colorado. That successful mission was followed by COSMIC-2’s six spacecraft equatorial mission launched in 2019 with high SNR to probe into the planetary boundary layer (PBL) and higher concentration in the tropics. PlanetiQ extends the quality progression with the highest SNR data to date.

What is GNSS Radio Occultation (RO)?

GNSS Radio occultation (RO) is a remote sensing technique used for measuring the physical properties of the atmosphere and ionosphere which provides significant improvements in weather forecasts, climate modeling and space weather modeling and prediction. GNSS provides unique attributes, including:

  • Very high vertical resolution: GNSS-RO provides 100-200+ meter vertical resolution, which is an order of magnitude beyond that of passive sensors.
  • Radiosonde-like profiling: GNSS RO’s very high precision, combined with very high vertical resolution enable it to detect sharp vertical features, critical and fundamental to characterizing atmospheric stability and forecasting severe weather
  • High accuracy: Because GNSS RO is tied to atomic frequency standards and inherently self-calibrating as an occultation technique, it is SI traceable, has no drift and is a key component of the global climate monitoring system and an anchor data set in NWP bias correction schemes.
  • Cloud penetration: With its long 20 cm wavelengths, GNSS-RO can “see” through clouds and storms that often obscure the view of other shorter wavelength observing technologies and profile the atmosphere in all weather conditions.
  • Complete, unbiased, global sampling: With its all-weather profiling over any and all types of underlying surfaces, GNSS RO provides unbiased sampling and captures the full range of behavior across the globe.

What products does PlanetiQ offer?

PlanetiQ provides a suite of global, real-time environmental data products used worldwide in operational weather forecasting and climate research. These include vertical atmospheric profiles (refractivity, pressure, temperature, density), space weather (ionosphere measurements, total electron content, scintillations, and F-Region), and climate (vertical atmospheric profiles of refractivity, pressure, temperature, density). PlanetiQ’s observing system is expanding to dramatically enhance the number, type, and quality of measurements made.

What’s next for PlanetiQ?

PlanetiQ is preparing to grow its constellation of small satellites to a total of 20 satellites while fulfilling the urgent need for highly accurate data to build predictive weather models for the government, military and private sector around the world.

Who are the founders and executives of PlanetiQ?

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PlanetiQ was founded in 2015, by Chris McCormick and Dr. E. Robert Kursinski, with more than 60 years of collective experience in aerospace, planetary systems, and satellite remote sensing. As a technologist, McCormick helped develop the fourth-generation Pyxis radio occultation receivers after having co-developed the second- and third-generation receivers. Dr. Kursinski, Chief Scientist, who has published more than 75 related research papers, was an Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. Previously at JPL he won the NASA Exceptional Service Award as systems engineer and manager of the Implementation of the Deep Space Network Radio Science System for the Voyager Neptune encounter.

Ira Scharf, CEO, comes to PlanetiQ with 30 years of senior operating experience in enterprise weather solutions, artificial intelligence, cyber security, and enterprise SaaS solutions. Previously, he served as CEO and Founder of Spark Insights, an insurtech company specializing in AI and geospatial analytics, supplying satellite and aerial-based insights to insurers and reinsurers for risk analysis, pricing and post-catastrophe damage assessment and response. Scharf also served as COO of, Chief Strategy Officer of BitSight Technologies, President of Commercial Services at AirDat, and Vice President and Division General Manager at The Weather Company. He earned both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Computer Science from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.