China’s BeiDou and Fengyun satellites increase global weather forecasting capabilities

China’s BeiDou and Fengyun satellites increase global weather forecasting capabilities

China’s BeiDou and Fengyun satellites increase global weather forecasting capabilities

By Simon Mansfield

Sydney, Australia (SPX) November 16, 2023

In a significant step for space weather forecasting, China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) has emerged as a pivotal player. Sun Yuqiang, director of the Key Laboratory for Space Environment Exploration at the National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and deputy chief designer of the Fengyun-3 satellite, recently shared his insights into the evolving interaction between BDS and weather. Forecasting techniques.

“When the BDS satellite is operating, the signal passing through the Earth’s ionosphere and atmosphere will be delayed and bent, resulting in errors,” Sun explained. However, by accurately determining the positions of the BDS and Fengyun satellites, these signal errors can be converted into valuable data. “By inversely processing the signal error values, we can retrieve the Earth’s ionospheric and atmospheric parameters, which can be applied to meteorological and space weather observation and prediction,” Sun explained.

This pioneering technology, known as radio occultation, has been refined over the years and has overcome many technical challenges. By equipping the Fengyun satellite with a Global Navigation Satellite System signal receiver, the system can now collect atmospheric profiles equivalent to data from more than 1,000 acoustic balloons launched around the world. This data is extremely important, as it can be transmitted to the Numerical Weather Prediction Center within three hours, which greatly enhances the accuracy of weather forecasts.

Sun’s innovative work extends beyond China’s borders. The data collected by her team also contributes to international weather forecasting efforts, being absorbed into systems such as the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecast and other international numerical weather prediction systems in Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and others. . This integration confirms the advanced level of China’s independently innovative detection technology in the field of radio occultation.

Sun’s contributions to China’s space environment exploration are far-reaching. She has led her team through several key technological breakthroughs in areas such as space particle detection, shortwave optics, and deep space environment detection. The equipment developed by Sun’s team is an important component of many Chinese satellites, and plays a vital role in major space projects such as the Tianwen, Chang’e and Tiangong space stations.

One notable achievement is the neutron and radiation dose detector on the lunar surface on the Chang’e-4 mission. In cooperation with German scientists, Sun’s team developed this detector, revealing that radiation levels on the moon’s surface are 200 to 300 times higher than radiation levels on Earth. This discovery is pivotal for designing radiation-resistant equipment for future manned lunar missions.

Moreover, Sun’s team achieved a milestone in detecting plasma imaging on the Chinese space station, providing vital data to protect astronauts from high-energy particle radiation during spacewalks.

In recent years, Sun has focused on developing BDS/GNSS remote sensing technology. Her team has successfully used the reflected signal of BDS/GNSS to detect wind speed at the sea surface, representing a world first in the practical application of this technology for numerical weather forecasting. This technology has applications in monitoring ocean gravity, soil moisture, and sea ice.

In a collaborative effort, Sun’s team partnered with the University of Graz in Austria and the German Research Center for Geosciences to create the International Laboratory for Climate and Atmospheric Research equipped with occultation monitoring and reflectometry systems. This cooperation aims to establish a joint global climate database for GNSS remote sensing, develop new GNSS remote sensing technology, and further develop GNSS meteorology.

Sun Yueqiang’s vision for exploring the space environment is broad and forward-looking. “Exploring the space environment is essential to exploring the universe,” she noted. It aspires to enhance BDS’s role in remote sensing detection and contribute significantly to global climate change research, reflecting a commitment to enhancing China’s and the world’s understanding of our planet and beyond.

Related links

Space Environment Exploration Laboratory

China’s Space Program – News, Politics and Technology
China news from

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