FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (COSMIC-1) Science Mission

FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC was successfully launched into a circular low-Earth orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 0140 UTC on 15 April 2006.

Since then, the data from FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC has contributed significantly to a wide range of scientific investigation. The data set has lead to improved global weather forecasting, especially in data sparse regions including the oceans and near the poles. It has established a global climate change "thermometer" which has unprecedented long-term stability.

FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC data probes data poor regions of the ionsophere, promising advances in Space Weather research that may eventually lead to Space Weather forecasting capabilities. Highly accurate satellite positioning data from the constellation has lead to advances in the description of Earth's gravitational field and benefits the solid Earth Sciences. Specifically, COSMIC-1 has impacted the following areas of research:


  • Demonstrates operational value for weather prediction
  • Investigates detailed global moisture distribution
  • Monitors tropopause, and lower stratosphere temperature profiles with high resolution
  • Provides all-weather data for joint analysis with other systems like GOES


  • Provides a global "self-calibrating" data set for climate monitoring and model test
  • Provides water vapor distribution, especially in the tropics
  • Studies ozone depletion
  • Studies troposphere/stratosphere exchange
  • Studies volcanic effects


  • Demonstrates operational value for monitoring global electron density field
  • Demonstrates operational value for scintillation monitoring
  • Provides electron density fields for model testing and development
  • Develops predictive models
  • Magnetospheric studies of auroral oval


  • Provides data for gravitational field improvement
  • Provides data for possible GPS orbit improvement
  • Supports other missions like GRACE
  • Supports altimetric missions with ionospheric products