FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC Spacecraft Constellation System, Mission Results, and Prospect for Follow-On Mission

  • Author(s): Chen-Joe Fong, Nick L. Yen, Chung-Huei Chu, Shan-Kuo Yang, Wen-Tzong Shiau, Cheng-Yung Huang, Sien Chi, Shao-Shing Chen, Yuei-An Liou, and Ying-Hwa Kuo
  • DOI:


  • Keywords: FORMOSAT-3, COSMIC, GPS radio occultation, Remote sensing, Constellation deployment, Orbit raising, Satellite, Operation challenges



The FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC spacecraft constellation consisting of six LEO satellites is the world¡¦s first operational GPS Radio Occultation (RO) mission. The mission is jointly developed by Taiwan¡¦s National Space Organization (NSPO) and the United States¡¦UCAR in collaboration with NSF, USAF, NOAA, NASA, NASA¡¦s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the US Naval Research Laboratory. The FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellites were successfully launched from Vandenberg US AFB in California at 0140 UTC 15 April 2006 into the same orbit plane of the designated 516 km altitude. The mission goal is to deploy the six satellites into six orbit planes at 800 km altitude with a 30-degree separation for evenly distributed global coverage. All six FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellites are currently maintaining a satisfactory good state-of-health. Five out of six satellites have reached their final mission orbit of 800 km as of November 2007. The data as received by FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellites constellation have been processed in near real time into 2500 good ionospheric profiles and 1800 good atmospheric profiles per day. These have outnumbered the worldwide radiosondes (~900 mostly over land) launched from the ground per day. The processed atmospheric RO data have been assimilated into the Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models for real-time weather prediction and typhoon/hurricane forecasting by many major weather centers in the world. This paper describes the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellite constellation system performance and the mission results that span the period from April 2006 to October 2007; and reviews the prospect of a future follow-on mission.

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