President Tsai Ing-wen’s inaugural address on May 20, 2020, declared that the space industry is one of the country’s six core strategic industries and listed Taiwan’s entry into the global space industry as a key indicator of Taiwan’s future industrial development. The impeccable space technology capability is the foundation for the development of the space industry. Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has always been vigorously developing space technology. Under the policy guidance of MOST, FORMOSAT-5 remote sensing satellite and FORMOSAT-7 weather satellite were launched in August 2017 and June 2019, respectively, and became the patron saint of Taiwan's environment. National Space Organization (NSPO) of National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) is to implement the policy of MOST, promote the advancement of space science and technology in Taiwan, and promote the application of satellite achievements to more people's livelihood. The "5th International Conference on GPS Radio Occultation in 2020" (5th ICGPSRO 2020) will be held in the form of a video conference from October 21 to 23, 2020, and the results of FORMOSAT-7 will be reported in this meeting after the satellites have been launched for more than a year.
Director General Chun-Liang Lin of NSPO of NARLabs pointed out that major meteorological operations centers around the world, including the United States, Europe, and Canada, have confirmed that the occultation observation of FORMOSAT-7 can indeed effectively improve the accuracy of global weather forecasts. The research results of Central Weather Bureau in Taiwan also show that FORMOSAT-7 data have significant benefits for numerical weather forecasting. Adding FORMOSAT-7 data to the global forecast model can bring comprehensive improvements to various forecast indicators, and the improvement in tropical regions is the greatest particularly. In tropical regions, the 5-day forecast error of atmospheric temperature at 6 kilometers from the surface is improved by about 4%. This result complies with the expectation of the FORMOSAT-7 mission to focus on tropical observations.
The excellent accuracy and high resolution of FORMOSAT-7 occultation observations have made important contributions to atmospheric research. Several international scholars in different atmospheric research fields have all published in the "5th ICGPSRO 2020". Their papers pointed out that FORMOSAT-7 played an anchoring role in the climate observation system, helping to establish and track the extent of temperature rising due to global warming. One of the major advantages of FORMOSAT-7 occultation observations is that it can detect the characteristics of the atmospheric boundary layer (the part of the atmosphere closest to the surface of the atmosphere, which is about 1 to 2 kilometers thick), which is relatively unobservable by traditional remote sensing technology. The boundary layer is the area where many weather phenomena (such as the development of thermal convection in the afternoon and the circulation of sea and land breeze) occur, which are closely related to the main human activities. Occultation observations have high resolution and are not affected by low cloud shadowing and moisture. It can accurately determine the top of the boundary layer and is further used to study the seasonal and regional structural changes of the global atmospheric boundary layer.
In addition, the quality of the ionospheric occultation data of FORMOSAT-7 is stable, and it has output more than 4,000 data per day, enough for researchers to build global ionospheric space weather observation products. The research teams of National Cheng Kung University and National Central University have used the global ionospheric radar to verify the correctness of FORMOSAT-7 ionospheric products and published them in space science related journals. Important findings in space weather research include the rare Antarctic sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event in 2019. It was found that the global ionosphere at an altitude of 300 kilometers was affected by the Antarctic SSW at an altitude of 30 kilometers, resulting in significant global ionospheric fluctuations. Analysis of FORMOSAT-7 data confirmed that the occurrence time was 12 noon and 3 pm local. In addition, combining FORMOSAT-7 and NASA GOLD scientific satellites, it was discovered that a strong ionospheric irregularity occurring in December 2019, which would affect satellite communications, was different from the past and only occurred in the spring and autumn. Researchers from Taiwan and the United States hope to solve this mystery through a large number of FORMOSAT-7 observations.
"The 5th ICGPSRO 2020" is the first international conference with FORMOSAT-7 as the main axis more than one year after the launch of FOMOSAT-7 in June 2019. Dr. Neil Jacobs, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), partner of FORMOSAT-7, will "visit" the scene with video. He will give an opening speech on the first day and serve as the first keynote speaker at the conference on October 22. A total of 70 papers from 14 countries will be published on the video platform at this conference. The conference is not limited by time and place, making it easier for more researchers to participate.
NSPO of NARLabs will hold the FORMOSAT-3 Tea Party of Appreciation on the same day. FORMOSAT-3 satellites were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA, in April 2006. After 14 years of continuous operations, the satellite mission was officially ended and FORMOSAT-3 was decommissioned on May 1, 2020. The promoters of the FORMOSAT-3 and the silently dedicated research and engineering teams gather at NSPO today (10/21) to thank the ground operations team for their efforts to guard the FORMOSAT-3 in the past 14 years, and also thank the service provided by FORMOSAT-3 to Taiwan and the world in space.
Former Chairman of National Science Council and Academician of the Academia Sinica, Lou-Chuang Lee, states that FORMOSAT-3 has established Taiwan’s status as an occultation data exporter. The observational data of the past 14 years has contributed more than expected in weather forecasting, and has been also valued by World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international meteorology. Furthermore, the achievement of FORMOSAT-3 has laid the foundation for Taiwan-U.S. cooperation on FORMOSAT-7.
Opening speech by Narlabs vice president Wen-Kuan Yeh.
Opening speech by NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs.
Opening speech by CWB Deputy Director General Mark Chen.
FORMOSAT-3 decommissioning reception was hosted by NSPO Director General Chun-Liang Lin.
Keynote by Academician of the Academia Sinica Lou-Chuang Lee.
Press conference briefing by FORMOSAT-7 Program Director Vicky Chu.
FORMOSAT-3 memorial model award to AIT representative.