JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- – Some new satellites are about to get observe tropical storms and hurricanes up close and in-depth.
NASA will be launching new weather tracking satellites later this month on a low Earth orbit.
The TROPICS Mission
The satellite project is called the TROPICS Mission. TROPICS stands for Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats.
TROPICS is a set of four CubeSats that will observe tropical storms and hurricanes much closer and in finer detail that typical satellites.
The CubeSats are miniature satellites that are in the shape of a cube. CubeSats are much more economical and have been used in the past in other NASA missions, including missions to Mars.
The four CubeSats will be distributed evenly in two low Earth orbits about 340 miles above the planet.
The mission will be taking hourly observations of a system’s rainfall, temperature and humidity.
NASA and Rocket Lab, a private rocket launch company, are targeting the first launch of the TROPICS mission this upcoming Sunday.
But the launch won’t be from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The launch will include two of the CubeSats, and the launch will be based from Launch Complex 1 Pad B in Mahia, New Zealand.
NASA is targeting 9 p.m. EDT for the start of the launch window.
The other two CubeSats are scheduled to be launched on Tuesday, May 16. The exact launch time and date of the second launch will be contingent on the successful date of the first launch.
The TROPICS mission is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with scientists and researchers from NASA, NOAA, several universities and private companies.
The CubeSats are expected to provide volumes of high quality data that will help researchers and meteorologists better understand tropical systems and the atmosphere surrounding them.
Some of the research goals include monitoring storm location and evolution and researching tropical rainfall and severe storms.
Other topics of interest by scientists include how to assimilate the data into the weather models and monitoring rainfall rates in areas with limited radar coverage.
Researchers are also hopeful that the mission will help better understand the evolution and development of tropical systems around the globe.
The new satellites will provide valuable data that will help meteorologists better forecasts tropical storms and hurricanes and their potential impacts.