GeoOptics Processor for Radio Occultation (GeoPRO) produces spectrograms that reveal the disintegration of the dual-frequency raw radio occultation signal at lower altitudes. The red areas are signals reaching the receiver after passing through the atmosphere. The dashed line is the processed atmospheric bending angle on each frequency generated by GeoPRO. Credit: GeoOptics

SAN FRANCISCO – GeoOptics developed a new data processing system to improve the accuracy of weather data from its CICERO radio occultation satellite constellation.

The new system, GeoOptics Processor for Radio Occultation (GeoPRO),  is designed to address an inherent challenge in employing radio occultation data. Two signals traveling through the atmosphere sometimes reach a receiver at the same time.

“You have to separate those two signals, otherwise you’ll get a false reading,” Alex Saltman, chief operating officer for Pasadena, California-based GeoOptics, told SpaceNews.

For detailed scientific research, analysts sometimes solve the problem through phase-matching, which involves extensive processing of information for many different points in the atmosphere. In the past, however, phase matching took too long to apply to timely weather data.

While the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders are making it difficult for GeoOptics employees to continue building satellites, the firm was able to tackle a software challenge related to phase-matching. GeoPRO speeds up phase matching by relying on cloud-computing to perform calculations in parallel.

GeoOptics is sharing data from the new processing system with scientists and commercial data customers.

“Due to the accuracy of the data processing and the quality of the Cion receiver, the data exhibits remarkably low bias even in warm air near the Earth’s surface, where lower quality radio occultation data often suffers from uncontrolled biases,” according to a GeoOptics news release. “Research has shown that this degree of accuracy in the lower atmosphere is vital for forecasting hurricanes and other high-impact weather events.”

GeoOptics delivers radio occultation data to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of its Commercial Weather Data Pilot.

GeoOptics’ satellites contain Global Navigation Satellite System Radio Occultation sensors the firm developed with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.

CICERO stands for Community Initiative for Cellular Earth Remote Observation.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...