A Geostationary Microwave Sounder: Design, Implementation and Performance

Bjorn Lambrigtsen, Pekka Kangaslahti, Oliver Montes, Noppasin Niamsuwan, Derek Posselt, Jacola Roman, Mathias Schreier, Alan Tanner, Longtao Wu, Igor Yanovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A geostationary microwave sounder, capable of providing continuous monitoring of temperature, water vapor, clouds, precipitation, and wind in the presence of clouds and precipitation is now feasible. A design called the Geostationary Synthetic Thinned Aperture Radiometer (GeoSTAR) has been developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the required new technology has been developed and is sufficiently mature that a space mission can be initiated. GeoSTAR can be thought of as 'AMSU in GEO,' i.e., it has capabilities in geostationary earth orbit (GEO) similar to those of microwave sounders currently operating in low earth orbit. Having such a capability in GEO will add tremendously to our ability to observe dynamic atmospheric phenomena, such as hurricanes and severe storms, monsoonal moisture flow, and atmospheric rivers. GeoSTAR will make measurements every 15 min or less instead of every 12 h and cover a large portion of the Earth continuously instead of with snapshots in a narrow swath. By tracking water vapor patterns, it is also possible to derive atmospheric wind speed and direction at altitudes from the surface to 10-15 km. All of this can be done regardless of cloud cover and weather conditions. During the latter half of 2020, a detailed study of GeoSTAR and its projected performance was undertaken as one of several such studies commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the purpose of configuring NOAA's next generation of earth environmental satellite systems. We present a summary of our findings, including instrument characteristics, measurement accuracy and precision, and expected impact on weather prediction and applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-640
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science


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