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Taiwan’s First Domestically Developed Weather Satellite Triton Successfully Launched

The very first meteorological satellite, named Triton, took to the skies on October 9 on board a Vega rocket by French launch service provider Arianespace. This achievement has underscored Taiwan’s strength and influence in technology, defense, economy, and its international standing, with high expectations for its contribution to global meteorological research. Dr. Wu Tsung-tsong, Minister of NSTC, mentioned the challenges and tests that scientific and technological advancements face. Satellites and rockets are large systems for scientific research, and meticulous, patient, persistent preparations are needed before they can operate successfully. Dr. Wu Jong-shinn, Director General of TASA, explained that Triton’s payload is Global Navigation Satellite System-Reflectometry (GNSS-R), and its task is to retrieve wind speed data through patterns reflected off the ocean and transmitted by GNSS. Triton is the culmination of efforts by TASA in collaboration with more than 20 Taiwanese companies, with domestic engineering and manufacturing accounting for 82% of the entire satellite project. Triton’s GNSS-R payload will analyze wind speed data collected on ocean-surface, from which wind speeds can be retrieved from wave height data. Wind speed is currently the least readily available data in meteorological observation, and Triton is expected to provide a substantial volume of valuable data, thus contributing favorably to global meteorological science and weather forecasting. TASA conducted a preliminary assessment of Triton’s health status. At 8:56 pm (Taiwan time), Triton made contact with TASA for nearly 11 minutes. Director General Wu, who had monitored the communication closely, confirmed that Triton’s health status, including its attitude, temperature and power, were all working within normal parameters. Going forward, functional tests of the satellite bus will be carried out as scheduled. If everything goes according to plan, Triton will then activate its principal payload GNSS-R to begin receiving reflected signals from GNSS.