Spire is a data and analytics company that collects data from space to solve problems on Earth. We identify, track, and predict the movement of the world’s resources and weather systems by “listening” to the planet in real-time and applying machine learning to understand what will happen in the future.
Spire’s constellation of 60+ nanosatellites is designed, built, and operated by Spire out of Glasgow, UK and our European headquarters in Luxembourg. With a diversified launch manifest and the capacity to build up to two satellites per week, Spire’s constellation continues to grow. Our 28-strong ground station network provides timely data that is processed by Spire and made available through our customer API.
Spire provides the following data-types on a commercial basis:
Ship traffic around the Strait of Gibraltar
Plane traffic around Atlanta
Commercial, military, business, and personal aircraft are facing new regulations that require the installation of ADS-B transponders by 2020. Most commercial and business jets are already equipped and regularly send information about their location and speed that Spire captures from its satellite constellation. Spire is at the forefront of space-based ADS-B collection and can track over the oceans, poles, and remote areas where ground-based receivers cannot be installed.
Aircraft Identification (ICAO Address)
Speed Over Ground
Latitude / Longitude / Height Coordinates
Barometric Altitude and/or GNSS Height
Aircraft Status / Operational Status / Target State
GNSS-RO is a technique that provides unique temperature, pressure, and moisture vertical soundings through the atmosphere, similar to the type of data collected by a weather balloon. Rather than data being available only twice per day from specific sites, GNSS-RO utilizes Spire’s satellite constellation to collect soundings 24/7 on a global basis and over remote regions like the oceans and the poles. In addition to being an important input for weather forecasting, GNSS-RO is also a climate quality measurement.
GNSS-RO data is output using the BUFR format convention. BUFR files are a binary data format that include bending angle, refractivity, and dry temperature as a function of altitude during a radio occultation event. The three sets of profile information (bending angle, refractivity, and dry temperature) represent increasing levels of Spire processing of the excess phase measurements recorded by the CubeSat GNSS receiver. BUFR files are commonly used by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for ingestion into Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models for data assimilation, and radio occultation is one of several remote sensing datasets that can be converted into BUFR files to describe meteorological data. The BUFR files produced by Spire comply with the BUFR files produced by the COSMIC Data Analysis and Archive Center (CDAAC) for COSMIC radio occultation data products.
A full description of the BUFR file contents, including data description, data templates, and software applications for decoding BUFR files, can be found here. Radio occultation is assigned to the global section of Table D as descriptor "3 10 026" within the BUFR standard. Within the comprehensive BUFR document, the BUFR Section 4 Data Template listed in Table 5 describes the binary data, including the three sets of profile information (bending angle, refractivity, and dry temperature as a function of altitude).
Precise Orbit Determination (POD) files
LEO Attitude files
BUFR Atmospheric Retrievals
Vertical Resolution: 100 m
Temperature Accuracy: <1℃
Constellations Tracked: GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, QZSS
When the GNSS receiver on-board a Spire satellite is powered on, it continuously tracks multiple dual-frequency GNSS satellite signals simultaneously from the POD antenna. These signals are primarily used for the purpose of precise orbit determination, which is necessary for neutral atmospheric radio occultation inversion. However, the pseudorange and carrier phase measurements measured by the receiver are also used to derive an estimate of the ionospheric total electron content (TEC) along the line-of-sight to each GNSS satellite. During post-processing, the TEC is computed for each signal “arc” (i.e. the period when the Spire receiver is continuously tracking a particular GNSS satellite) by forming a linear combination of phase measurements from dual GNSS frequencies. The phase TEC measurements are then “leveled” to the analogous combination of the pseudorange measurements for a more accurate measurement. Receiver and transmitter differential code biases are removed when possible.
The computed TEC values are stored in standard NetCDF format along with ancillary information including the transmitter and receiver positions. These data sets are packed in a NetCDF format, following conventions derived from data products created by CDAAC. Read more about this format here.
podTec NetCDF (*.nc) files
Time Resolution: 1 sec
Scintillation indices are indicators for ionospheric turbulence and are subdivided into two classifications: amplitude scintillation (S4), and phase scintillation (σɸ). Both provide indicators for "space weather" in the upper atmosphere. For example, large S4 values from a GNSS link may indicate ionospheric "storms" consisting of electron density gradients (e.g., Equatorial Spread F). This could lead to loss-of-lock on GNSS receivers, jeopardizing a receiver's ability to provide robust and accurate Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT). Continuous monitoring of scintillation indices is key for understanding GNSS link health, and is a first step toward predicting potential GNSS regional outages.
Spire's CubeSats feature an advanced scintillation monitoring capability and can measure both amplitude and phase scintillation (S4 and σɸ). Combined with both a large constellation (~100 CubeSats) and diverse orbital planes, Spire's constellation is prepared to contribute critical ionospheric data, particularly over Equatorial regions.
These data sets are packed in a NetCDF format, following conventions derived from data products created by CDAAC. Read more about this format here.
scnLv1 NetCDF (*.nc) files
Time Resolution: 1 sec
Magnetometer data is collected continuously on Spire spacecraft as part of our Attitude Control and Determination (ADCS) system. The sensor used is based on magneto-inductive technology to deliver high-performance resolution and repeatability with high gain, high sample rates, low hysteresis, and no need for temperature calibration.
Magnetic field vector (x, y, z + unix timestamp). Unit: nT
Time Resolution: 4 Hz or 0.1 Hz
GNSS signal transmissions are successfully being used as passive bistatic radar signals to measure Earth surface properties in a technique known as GNSS Reflectometry (GNSS-R). Spire’s nanosatellites will begin performing GNSS-R measurements in Q3 2019, with operational rollout of a full GNSS-R constellation to follow. Over ocean surfaces, Spire satellites will estimate sea surface roughness (mean square slope), sea surface wind speed, sea surface heights (altimetry), and sea ice extent maps. Over land surfaces, Spire satellites will deliver soil moisture estimates and flood inundation/wetlands extent maps. GNSS-R measurements from Spire's nanosatellites will afford better spatial sampling than traditional point measurements as well as faster temporal repeat times due to the sizes of the satellite constellation and ground station network.
Surface Normalized Bistatic Radar Cross-section
Ocean Mean Square Slope (L-band Limited)
Sea Surface Wind Speed
Sea Ice Extent Maps
Flood Inundation and Wetland Extent Maps
Time Resolution: 1-sec along-track sampling
Time Resolution (cont): sub-daily temporal repeat
Spatial Resolution: variable (nominally 1 km over land/sea ice and 20 km over open ocean)
Constellations Tracked: GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, QZSS
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