Located 22,236 miles above the equator, communication satellites have a pretty nice view of the Earth. They are also ideally situated to collect weather and climate data, which GeoMetWatch plans to take advantage of by sticking sensors on six of them. The company announced today that it received $6 million in series A funding that will go toward preparing for its first sensor launch in 2016.
While in orbit, the sensors will continuously scan the world for atmospheric data such as temperature and moisture levels. GeoMetWatch plans to use the data to predict severe weather and track storms. People and institutions will also be able to buy localized information, which could be used by a meteorologist to provide better daily forecasts or even cut down on false tornado warnings. A government could use GeoMetWatch’s data to better respond to a natural disaster.
“The weather data provided by this program has the potential to advance the preservation of lives and property by increasing warning time and enabling earlier evacuations as a result of extreme weather,” CEO David Crain said in a statement last month.
GeoMetWatch, which is based out of North Logan, Utah, plans to place sensors on six commercial communication satellites. The company is working with AsiaSat of Hong Kong for the first launch. They expect to generate $200 million a year in revenue per sensor from data sales.
GeoMetWatch’s sensors are based on technology developed by NASA and built at Utah State University. The new sensors contain parts that are less expensive and more reliable, which allows GeoMetWatch to sell data at a lower price. The sensors collect information by regularly dividing the atmosphere into 1,800 layers and scanning each individually. At more than 22,000 miles above Earth, the sensors are located far above the average atmospheric instrument’s height of 520 miles.
The company actually partnered with NASA last month when it announced that it will provide four years of weather data to the agency. NASA originally planned to use its own $400 million technology to collect similar data, but canceled the program due to budget cuts. The U.S. currently maintains 90 weather-observing instruments, but that number will drop to 20 by 2020, according to GeoMetWatch. GeoMetWatch is currently the only company with a license to orbit its sensors.