ESA title

New lightweight weather sonde demonstrates world-leading accuracy levels

The age-old craft of predicting the weather has taken a step forward with the launch of the world’s lightest weather sonde, the StreamSonde, developed by Skyfora in Finland with the help of the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Business Applications programme. Weighing in at less than 15 grams, the StreamSonde is able to deliver weather intelligence with world-class accuracy, recording atmospheric flows, weather parameters and air quality in great detail. 

The StreamSonde has been designed to be launched from balloons, aeroplanes, drones or UAVs and carried around by natural winds. By using GNSS technology and 3D motion sensors it is able to record winds with a higher degree of accuracy and in greater detail than ever before. It also uses multiple sensors to record a large number of weather parameters. The ESA Demonstration Project enabled Skyfora to evidence a wide range of benefits, not only around its contribution for improved weather forecasting ability but also in taking accurate storm and routine weather measurements.

The Demonstration Project was successfully concluded at the end of 2022 and the StreamSonde is now used by top-level government and research customers around the world. In the second half of 2022, the StreamSonde was launched more than 100 times as part of the ESA Demonstration Project. In several use cases it demonstrated breakthrough measurement accuracy, according to metrics laid out by the World Meteorological Organisation. The usefulness of the data for improving numerical weather prediction accuracy was also proven.

This ESA project has supported the Skyfora team in developing crucial know-how within the very complex and demanding field of measuring weather, processing weather data and weather forecasting. This includes new expertise around sensor placement on weather sondes, calibration procedures, test setups, data analysis, data assimilation to be used into numerical weather prediction, FM radio telemetry, GNSS engineering and embedded software development and testing. As well as developing technical expertise, the team has also been able to hone its commercial capabilities and has learnt to navigate the complex commercial landscape of public sector agencies that form the bulk of the weather sonde market. 

Skyfora’s CEO Fredrik Borgström said “with the support from ESA Business Applications in this project we have been able to develop our solution even further. Our mission is to update weather measurement and forecasting technology to the 21st century to bring accurate, high-resolution weather forecasts for improved industrial operations and for the protection of life and property. Skyfora’s view is that increasingly volatile weather caused by climate change urgently calls for such solutions.”

Enrico Spinelli, ESA’s Technical Officer on the StreamSonde project, said “we are pleased to have supported and worked with Skyfora since they were incubated at an ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC). The Streamsonde project has already achieved significant technical and commercial success in this complex field.”

Skyfora has recently secured significant investment and the growing team is committed to continuing to innovate and develop technology solutions that address critical weather prediction challenges.

16 May 2023
Last updated at 27 October 2023 - 10:21