NASA Signs Deal for GeoMetWatch Climate Data

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WASHINGTON — Commercial weather startup GeoMetWatch Corp. will provide NASA with four years’ worth of atmospheric sounding data from its first space-based sensor under an unfunded Space Act Agreement, GeoMetWatch announced June 21.

NASA will use the data from the Sounding and Tracking Observatory for Regional Meteorology (STORM) sensor slated for launch as a hosted payload aboard the AsiaSat 9 telecommunications satellite for the space agency’s climate-change research program, GeoMetWatch said in a press release. STORM is a hyperspectral sensor designed to provide high-resolution soundings of atmospheric conditions, including temperature and humidity, for weather forecasting and storm tracking.

GeoMetWatch of North Logan, Utah, is planning a constellation of six STORM sensors, all hosted aboard geostationary orbiting satellites, for global coverage. The company plans to sell the data commercially.

Telecommunications satellite operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong has agreed to host the first STORM sensor. Under an agreement announced in April, AsiaSat will pay $185 million to buy and integrate the sensor aboard AsiaSat 9, which will operate at 122 degrees east longitude, with both companies sharing in the resulting revenue.

The STORM sensors are based on the Geosynchronous Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (GIFTS) instrument developed by NASA as part of a joint project with the U.S. Navy that was canceled due to funding issues.

“We are thrilled to leverage the major investment made in GIFTS and help the STORM program become fully realized,” David Crain, chief executive of GeoMetWatch, said in a prepared statement. “The weather data provided by this program has the potential to advance the preservation of lives and property by increasing warning time and enabling earlier evacuations as a result of extreme weather. In delivering this life-saving information at significantly reduced costs, we look forward to improving weather forecast data for government agencies and commercial industries around the globe.”

In response to a SpaceNews query, Crain characterized the deal with NASA as “non-reimbursible.” NASA is allowing GeoMetWatch to use the GIFTS instrument and is getting data for its climate research program in exchange, he said.