GNSS radio occultation (GNSS-RO) was first developed in the 1990s by the JPL research group led by our founder Tom Yunck. Following several developmental satellites, the COSMIC program was the first large scale deployment of GNSS-RO, a groundbreaking small satellite system jointly developed by the United States and Taiwan that provided the first high-quality occultations into the lower atmosphere and the highest volume of occultations to date. The six COSMIC satellites launched in 2006 and made many contributions to weather and climate research and operational weather forecasting.
After more than 10 years, almost all of the COSMIC satellites are now non-operational, so the U.S. and Taiwan undertook the COSMIC-2 program to replace them. The six satellites of the COSMIC-2 constellation launched last summer.
The satellites are still maneuvering into position, but have already started gathering data, and seeing good results. Many of our colleagues at JPL and throughout the scientific community have worked on the mission.
Sometimes we are asked if there is a rivalry between the commercial and government missions. The fact is that we are more collaborative than competitive. Radio occultation technology is still developing, and missions like COSMIC-2 are important to push forward the government R&D that the government is uniquely capable of undertaking. Meanwhile, for long-term operational use, data from high-quality commercial constellations is the most efficient and cost-effective.
In the end, the more high-quality radio occultation data, the better all of our weather forecasts. We congratulate them on their success and are eager to learn new things from the COSMIC-2 data.