GPS Signals Spot Signs of Typhoons

The COSMIC satellite constellation uses GPS signals for a vertical view of the atmosphere

2 min read

The COSMIC constellation—a set of satellites that improbably exploits signals from the U.S. Global Positioning System to obtain atmospheric data—is aloft after a rocky start and is ­producing readings that improve weather forecasts and climate models. Since the satellites’ launch in 2006, three have experienced serious malfunctions. One lost a solar panel and is still working at reduced capacity, while another lost its solar-panel drive mechanism, leaving the panels stuck in one direction. A third mysteriously took a prolonged vacation for two months but just as inexplicably came back to life again last November.

Even so, forecasters already have come to appreciate COSMIC’s high-quality vertical views of the global atmosphere from the ionosphere down into the troposphere, to within 1 kilometer of Earth’s surface. A single sounding from a COSMIC satellite helped predict the formation of Hurricane Ernesto in late August 2006, which killed eight people and caused more than US $500 million in damage.

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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