Operations on world’s first commercial microwave radiometer to continue as part of In-Orbit Demonstration programme

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The Satellite Applications Catapult and Orbital Micro Systems (OMS) have today announced their intention to continue operations on the IOD-1 GEMS satellite past the initial six-month schedule.

Deployed in July 2019, IOD-1 GEMS is carrying the world’s first commercial microwave radiometer to capture 3D temperature atmospheric profiles which can offer users a view of imminent weather changes. IOD-1 GEMS is the first satellite in a planned constellation that will offer access to updated weather data every 15 minutes.

Recently, IOD-1 GEMS has been used to capture images of global weather events, including Storm Dennis as it approached the UK in February 2020, shown in Image 1 below.


Image 1: Temperature data from IOD-1 GEMS on 15 February 2020

Image 2, below, visualises temperature data near the Earth’s surface, showing storms in the Amazon across to the weather in the north Atlantic on 4 April 2020.

Image 2: Temperature data from IOD-1 GEMS on 4 April 2020

The below images of Super Typhoon Hagibis were captured in October 2019 and were the only observations captured during a 10-hour gap between government satellites. This showed the collapse of the eye-wall, a sign of significant strengthening just hours before the storm approached the Japan coast.

Image 3: Temperature data from IOD-1 GEMS on 8 October 2019, showing Super Typhoon Hagibis

IOD-1 GEMS is currently supported by a team of mission analysts and ground station specialists based at the Satellite Applications Catapult, who will continue to supply data to OMS until the satellite prepares for de-orbit later this year as part of its natural life cycle. Some sample data sets from the satellite are available for download on the OMS website.

Lucy Edge, Chief Operating Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult, said, “We are immensely proud of everything that Orbital Micro Systems has achieved with IOD-1 GEMS. As the first launch in the Satellite Applications Catapult’s In-Orbit Demonstration programme, the GEMS mission has been able to bring together the best of research and industry to provide affordable, actionable data which can be used by organisations around the world. We are looking forward to extending our work with OMS on this mission and their future endeavours.

Bill Hosack, CEO at Orbital Micro Systems, said “OMS has been thrilled with the continuing success of the IOD-1 GEMS mission and our partnership with Satellite Applications Catapult. The market has already expressed excitement that a commercial smallsat can deliver high-definition and frequent weather data at a fraction of the cost of much larger government satellites. We’ve benefited immensely from the IOD project and look forward to continuing our commercial growth built on this foundation of experience and knowledge gained.

IOD-1 GEMS is being delivered in partnership with Orbital Micro System and has been funded by Innovate UK as part of the Satellite Applications Catapult’s In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) programme. The CubeSat bus was supplied by UK-based satellite manufacturers AAC Clyde Space and the launch was provided by Nanoracks. The mission operations are further supported by Scotland-based companies Bright Ascension and Craft Prospect, with ground station support provided by Infostellar.