How a Squad of Small Satellites Will Help NASA Study Storms
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Hurricanes are some of the most powerful and destructive weather events on Earth. To help study these powerful storms, NASA is launching TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats), a collection of 6 small satellites designed to measure storm strength by detecting the thermal radiation naturally emitted by the oxygen and water vapor in the air. In June 2021, NASA launched a test version of the satellite, called a pathfinder, ahead of the constellation of six weather satellites planned for launch in 2022. When launched, the TROPICS satellites will work together to provide near-hourly microwave observations of a storm's precipitation, temperature, and humidity. The mission is expected to help scientists understand the factors driving tropical cyclone intensification and to improve forecasting models.
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center