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The capabilities of GPS equipment cannot be limited to navigation only. Monitoring changes in GPS signals as satellites sink behind the horizon will help to create an active atmosphere probing system with the highest degree of precision and the biggest capacity ever achieved. The GeoOptics Consortium is planning to launch the world’s biggest orbit group consisting of 100 low-orbiting weather microsatellites which will use signals from GPS satellites for probing the atmosphere. GeoOptics, an international consortium, was created specifically for implementing the CICERO project which involves deploying the orbit group of 100 low-orbiting weather microsatellites. The probing of the atmosphere will be done using the method of radio occultations with GNSS-RO navigation satellites (Global Navigational Satellites System Radio Occultation).
A large number of satellites in the system and the frequency with which they can keep track of the GPS satellites sinking behind the horizon will help an effective monitoring of the atmospheric condition in near-real time with the precision of vertical profiling that has never been achieved before – 20 to 50 times as high as that of the best existing meteorological systems. The capacity of the system will reach 100,000 profiles of the atmosphere daily.
According to Space Daily, the GNSS-RO helps to get vertical profiles of the atmospheric density, pressure, temperature, the content of water vapours, the height of geopotential, the distribution of electron charge in the ionosphere and derived parameters.
Such information collected from all over the globe at the same time with a high vertical and planned resolution helps to improve significantly weather forecasts, especially hurricane prediction. The system will make it possible to do a detailed study of long-period climate change as well as to monitor the condition of the ionosphere that occurs at the time of magnetic storms. The on-board GNSS-RO equipment of the CICERO satellites will use data collection technologies tested by NASA and NOAA as far back as 15 years ago. Nowadays detectors with an analogous function are installed in a large number of spacecraft – satellites, such as CHAMP, SAC-C, GRACE, COSMIC, and TerraSAR-X, which is now preparing to start. In addition to GNSS-RO detectors, CICERO will be fitted with other sets of equipment for scientific and applied purposes. It is planned that the first ten CICERO satellite vehicles should be put into orbit in October, 2010.Digital cartography and GPS navigation 25-05-2007