Platform technologies for space, atmosphere and climate

Advanced platform technologies will be developed for space-related research, such us in-space tracking and navigation, precise positioning, space weather, atmospheric modelling and climate monitoring.

Grants and funding: 

This research project is funded by the Australian Government as part of its Australian Space Research Program (ASRP). The ASRP is a newly established funding initiative that will provide $40 million over four years to support space-related research, education and innovation. This funding will be awarded through competitive, merit-based grants separated into two streams; A – Space Education Development and B – Space Science and Innovation. The project ‘Platform Technologies for Space, Atmosphere and Climate’ was one of only 4 projects to be awarded first round (March 2010) funding in the highly competitive Space Science and Innovation funding stream.

New algorithms and enhanced atmospheric models will be developed in the context of new generation navigation and geo-environmental satellites to enhance Australia’s capabilities in space research. For more information, please visit the Australian Government space portal.

New algorithms and enhanced atmospheric models will be developed in the context of new generation navigation and geo-environmental satellites to enhance Australia’s capabilities in space research. For more information, please visit the Australian Government space portal.


To enhance Australia's space capabilities by developing integrated, advanced space-based platform technologies in the context of new generation global navigation and geo-environmental satellite systems.


The objectives of this research project are to:

  1. Develop advanced algorithms for precise real-time in-space tracking and navigation and precise orbit determination (POD) for the current and future geo-environmental satellites.
  2. Investigate atmospheric mass density models in order to improve reliability and efficiency of space surveillance systems.
  3. Develop models and algorithms to explore North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) Two Line Element (TLE) catalogue of 10,000 space objects for better orbit prediction.
  4. Develop new algorithms and optimisation procedures for high precision ubiquitous positioning and mapping in the context of new generation global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).
  5. Investigate effects of magnetic field, troposphere, stratosphere and ionosphere on electro-magnetic L-band frequency ray paths. This includes developing comprehensive 3-D ray tracing application software packages.
  6. Study atmosphere, ionosphere and space weather through incorporating GNSS and low earth orbit (LEO) Radio Occultation (RO) technology.
  7. Evaluate and assimilate multi-sensor satellite remote sensing data, and develop space-based platform technologies for investigating climate change and climatic hazards.
  8. Improve characterisation of climate of the Australian region based on the new models, algorithms, methodologies and applications software developed under this project.


Next generation Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) will revolutionise the availability, efficiency and reliability of satellite-based positioning systems. GNSS will become a truly ubiquitous utility for positioning, tracking and navigation, with influences extending to aspects of everyday life. This research will investigate new theories, models and algorithms designed to incorporate multiple constellations and multiple frequency observables from data available from new generation GNSS. In addition, new mathematical models and algorithms will be developed for the accurate modelling of atmosphere mass density using space tracking data. These models and algorithms will then be used for precise orbit determination (POD), predicting satellite orbits and modelling orbits of debris objects. This information will increase the accuracy of monitored space-based measurements and as a consequence will improve atmospheric modelling and space weather forecasting capabilities and risk assessment.

An emerging approach to atmospheric satellite remote sensing, GNSS-Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Radio Occultation (RO), has proven to be an important and robust atmospheric sounding technique. This technique retrieves high accuracy and high vertical resolution data, with an un-biased global coverage. GNSS-LEO RO measurements can be taken over areas that are otherwise dismissed as too difficult to access and have the capacity to produce viable data irrespective of weather condition. The GNSS RO data can be used to improve the absolute accuracy of temperature analyses based on other space-based observations and to improve models of the troposphere, stratosphere and ionosphere. Under this project, advanced algorithms and optimised methodologies will be developed in order to improve the use of and accuracy of GNSS RO data from the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC) mission. This will improve the analysis of key atmospheric characteristics such as temperature and moisture. These algorithms and methodologies will be developed with the view that they will be implemented for use in future global satellite missions (e.g. KOMPSAT-5 from Korea, COSMIC-II from Taiwan/USA, radio occultation sounder for atmosphere from Italy and others) and in the proposed development of future Australian satellites.

A new multi-sensor satellite remote sensing/data assimilation approach for extending predictability in numerical weather prediction, climate and tropical cyclone investigations will be aided by use of advanced physical models.

These models will be developed to estimate winds from visible and infrared observations from the geostationary meteorological satellites and active (Envisat, Sea-Winds, ASCAT) and passive microwave (SSM/I, SSMIS) observations from polar-orbiting satellites. This will aid in the determination of temperature and moisture from NOAA, EUMETSAT and NASA’s advanced infra-red and microwave sounding systems (e.g. AIRS/AMSU). This satellite-derived atmospheric sounding data used in conjunction with GNSS RO data will allow for the establishment of high-accuracy climate monitoring.

Climate change and associated hazards such as tropical cyclones, drought, extreme heat and bushfires are serious problems faced by Australia. The insufficient density of ground-based meteorological observation stations (especially in the Southern Hemisphere) and the lack of accurate data over the Earth’s oceans and Polar Regions significantly limits the accuracy and reliability of current climate models. As such it is important to develop and evaluate new observational techniques to gain an improved understanding of climate change in the Australian region. Satellite-based remote sensing provides a low-cost, powerful means of precisely measuring characteristics of the Earth’s environment on a global scale. In this project, it is proposed that research is conducted into opportunities for data acquisition, data processing and model development for space, atmosphere and climate research offered by new generation GNSS and new geo-environmental satellite programs.

To summarise, a suite of satellite-based technology platforms will be developed for the purposes of space tracking, precise positioning and space, atmosphere and climate related research. This research is an important step forward to position Australia to be a key player in the space industry and future space research.

Key people

RMIT University (Leading organisation)



  • Dr Robert Norman
  • Dr James Bennett
  • Dr Sue-Lynn Choy
  • Mr Brett Carter
  • Mr Toby Manning
  • Miss Ying Li
  • Mr Erjiang Fu
  • Mr Yubin Yuan
  • Dr Dongju Pen
  • Dr Witold Rohm
  • Dr Suqin Wu
  • Dr Xingwang Yu
  • Mr Congliang Liu

University of New South Wales

  • Professor Chris Rizos
  • Dr Samsung Lim
  • Dr Yong Li

For more information, please visit the University of NSW.

Curtin University of Technology

  • Professor Peter Teunissen
  • Dr Dennis Odijk
  • Dr Andrea Nardo

For more information, please visit the Curtin University of Technology.

Bureau of Meteorology

  • Professor John Le Marshall
  • Professor Yuri Kuleshov
  • Ms Bertie Biadeglgne

For more information, please visit the Bureau of Meteorology.

Electro Optic Systems Space System

  • Dr Jizhang Sang

For more information, please visit the Electro Optic Systems Space System.

GPSat Systems Australia

  • Mr Graeme Hooper

For more information, please visit GPSat Systems Australia.

National Space Organisation of Taiwan

  • Professor Yuei-An Liou

For more information, please visit the National Space Organisiation of Taiwan.

NOAA World Data Centre for Meteorology USA

  • Mr Howard Diamond

For more information, please visit the NOAA World Data Centre for Meteorology USA.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer