NASA uses New Zealand airline to test satellites

NASA uses the aircraft of a New Zealand company to test its satellites observing climate change. They use the reflection of GPS signals to determine the state of the water below them.

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CYGNSS satellites

NASA is using Air New Zealand aircraft to test its new environmental data collection system. In the future, this system will be used on a new generation of CYGNSS satellites. 

CYGNSS stands for Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System. This is a group of eight satellites flying in low Earth orbit, mainly over tropical latitudes. Their main task is to study storms and hurricanes and how they are affected by climate change.

CYGNSS uses data on how GPS global positioning system signals bounce off the surface of the water when it is calm or disturbed. Thanks to this, it is possible to constantly monitor the speed of movement even when optical satellites do not see anything due to clouds and rain.

Airline helps with research

After CYGNSS satellites were put into orbit in 2016, scientists discovered that they could also be used to study the state of wetlands and other wet places that play an important role in regulating the global climate.

And it was here that Air New Zealand planes came in handy. This is the first such cooperation between the airline and a scientific institution in the field of climate change research. Every time their plane takes to the sky, a receiver similar to CYGNSS satellites starts working on board.

But these devices differ from those already used by the best resolution. Thanks to this, they can assess the condition of the water hidden under the forest cover. In addition, the partnership with Air New Zealand gives NASA another interesting opportunity.

CYGNSS satellites fly over Air New Zealand planes quite often. This allows to compare the indicators that two different devices receive over the same territory and thus calibrate them.

In the future, the equipment that is currently being tested on the aircraft of the New Zealand airline will be installed on CYGNSS satellites. This will allow better monitoring of environmental changes associated with the movement of water.

According to

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