The weather outlook is for better forecasts after six “flying saucers” were sent into orbit.
The constellation of disk-shaped satellites will circle the Earth on a five year mission to study the atmosphere in greater detail than ever before.
They were launched on a high-speed rocket from a fog-shrouded Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 2.40am UK time on Easter Saturday to look for hints of climate change.
The £60 million project – called COSMIC – uses a revolutionary method to watch the weather.
The miniature satellites, spread around the Earth and orbiting at an altitude of 500 miles will tune into “SatNav” Global Positioning System signals.
Around 2,500 measurements a day will be made to check how the signals are bent by ripples and currents in the atmosphere.
Scientists say this will vastly improve our knowledge of our own atmosphere plus the effect of “space weather” – the battering that the Earth gets from storms on the Sun which can damage communication systems and power grids.
The mission, which will also track hurricanes, is a joint project between the USA and Taiwan.
Jay Fein, of the US National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric Sciences, said: “The satellites will convert GPS measurements into a precise worldwide set of weather, climate and space weather data.
“The resulting new information will have a tremendous impact on geosciences research and weather prediction, and will be an important contribution to global Earth observations.”
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