On the Use of Satellites in Molniya Orbits for Meteorological Observation of Middle and High Latitudes

Stanley Q. Kidder Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Thomas H. Vonder Haar Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

Time and space sampling is an increasingly critical aspect of Earth observation satellites. The highly eccentric orbit used by Soviet Molniya satellites functions much like a high-latitude geostationary orbit. Meteorological instruments placed on a satellite in a Molniya orbit would improve the temporal frequency of observation of high-latitude phenomena such as polar lows. Consideration of this new sampling strategy is suggested for future systems such as the “Earth Probe” satellites in the Mission to Planet Earth program as well as for operational meteorological satellite programs.

Abstract

Time and space sampling is an increasingly critical aspect of Earth observation satellites. The highly eccentric orbit used by Soviet Molniya satellites functions much like a high-latitude geostationary orbit. Meteorological instruments placed on a satellite in a Molniya orbit would improve the temporal frequency of observation of high-latitude phenomena such as polar lows. Consideration of this new sampling strategy is suggested for future systems such as the “Earth Probe” satellites in the Mission to Planet Earth program as well as for operational meteorological satellite programs.

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