The University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) in Sunyani has launched the Constellation Observation System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC- 2) Ground Station to help provide accurate meteorological information for Ghana and Africa as a whole.
An international collaboration between Taiwan and United States, the COSMIC-2 will use a constellation of 12 remote sensing micro-satellites to collect atmospheric data for weather prediction and for ionosphere, climate and gravity research.
The system also provides an improved performance of the number of measurements and achievements of near real-time numerical weather prediction to augment Ghana’s weather forecast.
The ground station at the UNER is one of nine such stations throughout the world and the only one in Africa which will enable the university to benefit from a large consortium of 56 partners to leverage efforts in atmospheric research.
The $1.2 million system will also assist the Ghana Meteorological Agency to improve on the quality of its forecast, while it would be easier for the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Aquaculture to advise farmers to help them make informed decisions regarding rainfall and sunshine.
Launching the project, which was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Vice Chancellor of the UNER, Professor Harrison Dapaah, said the centre was,however, challenged because it needed a building, good and fast internet access, an electric generator and funding for research.
He,therefore, appealed to the government to provide the centre with about GH¢1 million to enable it to solve its teething problems.
Explaining how the system worked, Mr Richard Ullman, a representative of NOAA stated that the ground station, which consisted of six satellites, would collect temperature, moisture and ionosphere information over the tropical regions worldwide.
“The COSMIC-2 system will make as many as 6,000 of these profiles every day. And every day, over 600 of these profiles will be brought down to earth at this antenna that you see before you”.
Mr Ullman explained that while West Africa was strategically placed for the station, the UNER had friendly, knowledgable staff in the Earth Observation Research Centre.
He said data downloaded from the station would immediately be sent to the University of Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Colorado from where it would feed into the US National Centre for Environmental Prediction forecast models in just few minutes.
“It does not stop here. We will simultaneously share COSMIC-2 data with weathers services worldwide. In this way, the work you do in Sunyani protects the lives, property and commerce of not only the people of Ghana and US but of the entire world.
For his part, the Director of Earth Observation, Research and Innovation Centre (EORIC) at the UNER, Dr Amos Karbo-bah said his centre was still expecting three more ground stations by the beginning of 2018 and these ground stations were coming from SpaceX, South Africa Space Agency and Atlas Corporations.
“With the completion of these future initiatives, EORIC will become the eye of Africa for delivering space-based solutions for policy making in Ghana and Africa.