Collecting satellite data for research is a group effort thanks to this app developed for Android users. Camaliot is a campaign funded by the European Space Agency, and its first project focuses on making smartphone owners around the world part of a project that can help improve weather forecasts by using your phone’s GPS receiver.
Researchers think that they can use satellite signals to get more information about the atmosphere. For example, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere can affect how a satellite signal travels through the air to something like a phone.
The app gathers information to track signal strength, the distance between the satellite and the phone being used, and the satellite’s carrier phase, according to Camaliot’s FAQs. With enough data collected from around the world, researchers can theoretically combine that with existing weather readings to measure long-term water vapor trends. They hope to use that data to inform weather forecasting models with machine learning. They can also track changes in Earth’s ionosphere — the part of the atmosphere near space. Creating better ionospheric forecasts could be relevant in tracking space weather and could eventually make Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) more accurate by accounting for events like geomagnetic storms.
Here’s how you can begin using the Camaliot app on your Android phone after downloading it from Google Play:
- Select “start logging” and place your phone in an area with a clear sky view to begin logging the data
- Once you have measured to your liking, select “stop logging”
- Then, upload your session to the server and repeat the process over time to collect more data. You can also delete your locally-stored log files at this step.
In addition to being able to view your own measurements against others accumulated over time, you can also see a leaderboard showing logging sessions done by other participants. Eventually, the information collected for the study will be available in a separate portal.