The Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate, or COSMIC, is set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 5:10 p.m. PDT (8:10 p.m. EDT) Friday, April 14, aboard a U.S. Air Force Minotaur rocket. The launch window is three hours in duration. The launch countdown will be available on the Internet beginning at 3 p.m. PDT (6 p.m. EDT) and may be accessed at:

A globe-spanning constellation of six weather and climate research satellites based upon a novel application of a NASA-developed technology, the network is expected to improve weather forecasts, monitor climate change and enhance space weather research.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., designed COSMIC’s primary instrument, a science global positioning system (GPS) space receiver. JPL will also provide instrument flight software and technical support. The five-year mission is funded by Taiwan’s National Space Organization and various U.S. agencies, including the National Science Foundation, Arlington, Va., which leads science activities. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo., manages the mission and designed the satellite array system.

The low-orbiting satellites will be the first to provide atmospheric data daily in real time over thousands of points on Earth by measuring the bending of radio signals from the U.S. GPS as the signals pass through Earth’s atmosphere, a technology known as radio occultation. The data will be used for research and operational weather forecasting.