PlanetiQ announced Monday the opening of its new science and engineering facility in Boulder, Colo. The facility includes a laboratory clean room where PlanetiQ will complete the development and manufacture of its first 12 Pyxis-RO flight instruments for the world's first commercial satellite constellation exclusively focused on weather, climate and space weather.
The facility is collocated with Blue Canyon Technologies, which is already working collaboratively with PlanetiQ to develop the initial set of 12 microsatellites scheduled for launch in late 2016 and 2017. Development and testing of the first two Pyxis-RO sensors has been underway since last spring.
The satellite-based Pyxis-RO will track Global Positioning System (GPS) signals traveling through Earth's atmosphere and convert them into dense, precise measurements of global temperature, pressure and water vapor using a technique called radio occultation (RO). The high sensitivity of Pyxis-RO allows it to routinely probe deep into the planetary boundary layer. In addition, Pyxis-RO is able to track signals from all four major satellite navigation systems--GPS, Galileo, Beidou and Glonass.
Among the satellite data sources currently ingested into computer weather models, RO has shown the most cost-effective, highest impact per observation on forecast accuracy. But only a sparse amount of radio occultation data exists today. With 12 satellites on orbit by the end of 2017 (expanding to 18 satellites by 2020.), PlanetiQ will provide more than 10 times the amount of data available from existing RO sensors, enabling dramatic improvements in weather forecasting, climate monitoring and space weather prediction.