NASA Will Launch Fleet Of Microsatellites To Track Typhoons And Hurricanes

Posted: Nov 13 2016, 5:50am CST | by , Updated: Nov 13 2016, 5:53am CST, in Latest Science News


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NASA will Launch Fleet of Microsatellites to Track Typhoons and Hurricanes
An artist's impression of one of the eight small satellites deployed in space over a hurricane. Credit: NASA

The first complete orbital mission will track the formation and intensity of tropical systems and help improve hurricane forecasts

NASA is set to launch its first hurricane-tracking mission into the space. The mission, named Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), consists of eight low-cost, microsatellite observatories that will orbit close to the Earth and monitor tropical systems, which will ultimately help improve weather predications and storm forecast.

The mission is scheduled to launch on December 12 from Cape Carnival Air Force Station in Florida.

“This is a first-of-its-kind mission,” said Thomas Zurbuchen from NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “As a constellation of eight spacecraft, CYGNSS will do what a single craft can't in terms of measuring surface wind speeds inside hurricanes and tropical cyclones at high time resolution, to improve our ability to understand and predict how these deadly storms develop.”

Previous instruments that were sent into the space had lacked the ability to accurately measure surface winds in the inner cores of the hurricanes as their signals break down in the areas of heavy perception.

CYGNSS mission, however, uses new type of GPS technology that can penetrate through heavy rain and can track the mechanisms of rapidly evolving cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons. Therefore, it is expected to provide more accurate information about wind speeds in and around the tropical systems including regions beneath the eyewall, which are not possible to measure from space with existing instruments.

“Today, we can’t see what’s happening under the rain,” said Chris Ruf, principal investigator for CYGNSS mission. “We can measure the wind outside of the storm cell with present systems. But there’s a gap in our knowledge of cyclone processes in the critical eyewall region of the storm – a gap that will be filled by the CYGNSS data. The models try to predict what is happening under the rain, but they are much less accurate without continuous experimental validation.”

The CYGNSS satellites are designed to continuously monitor surface winds over the oceans across Earth's tropical hurricane-belt. Each of the small satellite is capable of observing changes in storms within a second and the ability to track rapid changes in hurricane intensity is critical to accurate hurricane forecasts.

The CYGNSS microsatellite observatories are developed and tested by the Southwest Research Institute in Texas and they will begin operations in 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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