Two Defense Department (DoD) organizations are partnering to improve global weather sensing applications by contracting for industry development of ground, air, and space-based technologies, according to a press release from Oct. 26.

The U.S. Air Force and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) awarded five contracts for prototype commercial solutions in global weather data to meet Air Force and DoD operational needs. The technology prototypes range from nano-sized drones to smart balloons.

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According to the DIU, global weather data is increasingly important for making well-informed decisions in geographically diverse environments around the world, and the technology is more readily accessible from commercial platforms.

“We are striving to develop and provide capabilities to the Air Force and across the DoD that create not only an information advantage, but most importantly provide a decision advantage over near-peer competitors,” said John Dreher, materiel leader of the Weather Systems Branch in the Air Force. “With the help of DIU, we’re accelerating the delivery of commercial weather sensing technology to meet the operational need.”

Earlier this year, the DoD sought commercial data solutions for global weather sensing via ground, air, and space-based platforms to improve three things:

  • Global environmental situational awareness and analysis;
  • Performance of global and regional weather physics-based models; and
  • Performance of global machine learning-based models.

According to the press release, DoD will use the commercial data for weather forecasting, impact applications, and climate change assessments. Five companies received the prototype awards:

  • Greensight: the company’s WeatherHive uses nano-sized drones to directly measure atmospheric conditions;
  • Muon Space: they design, build, and operate small satellites to better understand and react to the changing planet;
  • NextGen Federal Systems: developing a prototype to curate commercially offered weather data and develop machine learning workflows and models;
  • using microwave radiometer sensing technology on small satellites in low Earth orbit to assess weather in Earth’s atmosphere; and
  • Windborne Systems: they design, build, and operate a constellation of long-duration smart weather balloons providing global in-situ weather observations.
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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.