Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate

Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) is a program designed to provide advances in meteorology, ionospheric research, climatology, and space weather by using GPS satellites in conjunction with low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites. The term "COSMIC" may refer to either the organization itself or the constellation of 6 satellites (also known as COSMIC-1 and as FORMOSAT-3, 福爾摩沙衛星三號, in Taiwan). The constellation is a joint U.S.-Taiwanese project with major participants including the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the National Science Foundation, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), SRI International on the U.S. side and the National Space Organization (NSPO) on the Taiwanese side.

Cosmic (meteorological satellites) logo.png
NamesFormosat 3
Mission typeMeteorology, Ionosphere, Climatology, and Space weather research
COSPAR ID2006-011A through 2006-011F
SATCAT no.29047 through 29052
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerOrbital Sciences Corporation
Launch mass155 lb (70 kg)
Start of mission
Launch date01:40, April 15, 2006 (UTC) (2006-04-15T01:40Z)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
Perigee altitude500 km (310 mi)
Apogee altitude500 km (310 mi)

The total cost of the spacecraft and launch was US$100 million, 80% of which was being provided by NSPO, and the remainder by various U.S. agencies.[1]

After experiencing several delays, the launch of the COSMIC satellite constellation atop a Minotaur launch vehicle from Vandenberg AFB occurred at 01:40 GMT, on April 15, 2006, despite heavy fog.[2] The satellites, which orbit at an altitude of 500 miles, required over a year to move into the correct positions to provide full global coverage.

A follow-up constellation, COSMIC-2, launched 25 June 2019 on a Falcon Heavy rocket.


Components of a FORMOSAT-3 / COSMIC satellite

The COSMIC satellites are equipped with three primary forms of instrumentation for remote sensing, including:


All 6 microsatellites were launched on a single launch vehicle and deployed into a single parking orbit after launch. The spacecraft were then deployed into separate orbital planes through the use of precession due to the oblateness of the Earth and raised to a final orbital altitude over the course of several months. Scientific data were collected during the deployment process, along with experimental validation and calibration.


Model of FORMOSAT-3.

Currently only four of the microsatellites remain fully functional. The FM2's power system lost 50% of its output in February 2007, while FM3's solar panel also malfunctioned since August 2007. As a result, both satellites are operating in a degraded state, capable of returning data only during specific solar angles. The FM6 went out of control in September 2007, but control was restored by November 16 of the same year.[4][5] FM3 had severe power problem since July 6, 2010. It is declared not functional since then. FM4, FM5, and FM6 have had battery aging problem.[6]

As of 2019, the COSMIC-1 constellation is still operational and publishing data. The data has been used in weather models to improve the quality of weather forecasts.[7]

Orbital informationEdit

Parking orbitEdit

Final orbital configurationEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "COSMIC: About". UCAR COSMIC. Retrieved 2006-04-18.
  2. ^ Ray, Justin (2006-04-14). "Launch Coverage for Minotaur Rocket' COSMIC Mission". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 2006-04-15.
  3. ^ "New Satellite System Will Use GPS Signals To Track Hurricanes, Climate Change, and Space Weather" (Press release). UCAR. 2006-04-12. Archived from the original on 2006-06-26. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
  4. ^ COSMIC Current Status Archived 2008-07-04 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ [1] COSMIC Homepage
  6. ^ C.-J. Fong, D. Whiteley, E. Yang, K. Cook, V. Chu, B. Schreiner, D. Ector, P. Wilczynski, T.-Y. Liu, & N. L. Yen, "Space & Ground Segment Performance of the FORMOSAT-3 / COSMIC Mission: Four Years in Orbit," Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2011, pp. 599-638 (abstract here: )
  7. ^ Fong, Chen-Joe; Yang, Shan-Kuo; Chu, Chung-Huei; Huang, Cheng-Yung; Yeh, Jia-Jing; Lin, Chen-Tsung; Kuo, Tien-Chuan; Liu, Tie-Yue; Yen, Nick L.; Chen, Shao-Shing; Kuo, Ying-Hwa; Liou, Yuei-An; Chi, Sien (November 2008). "FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC Constellation Spacecraft System Performance: After One Year in Orbit". IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. 46 (11): 3380–3394. doi:10.1109/TGRS.2008.2005203.

External linksEdit