A loaf-sized mission to improve hurricane forecasting is ready to go

(CNN) A new mission designed to improve hurricane forecasting is ready for launch, ahead of the June 1 arrival 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

The NASA mission includes a constellation of CubeSats called TROPICS, or Time-Specified Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a constellation of small satellites.

The first of two CubeSats is expected to blast off from Mahia, New Zealand, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket during a two-hour window that opens at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The launch of this first mission, dubbed “Rocket Like a Hurricane,” will be broadcast live NASA website And Rocket Lab’s website.

Two additional CubeSats, dubbed “Coming to a Storm Near You,” will be launched from the same location later this month.

The four satellites, each 12 pounds and about the size of a loaf of bread, will monitor tropical cyclones from low Earth orbit.



TROPICS satellites will be launched from New Zealand.

Once they are all in orbit, the small satellites will form a constellation that will make more frequent observations than current weather-monitoring satellites.

“There is an urgent and growing need for better climate and weather data from space. Hurricanes and tropical storms have a devastating impact on lives and livelihoods, so we are incredibly proud to have been commissioned by NASA to launch Tropics missions that will empower scientists and scientists,” said Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. In a statement, researchers want to accurately predict storm strength and give people time to evacuate and make plans.”With the hurricane season in 2023 fast approaching, time is of the essence for these tasks.”

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Each CubeSat will orbit about 340 miles (550 kilometers) above Earth’s surface and take hourly observations of the precipitation, temperature and humidity of the tropical storms. Existing satellites take similar data, but only every six hours, making it difficult to measure the intensity of storms.

More frequent data can help scientists understand the rapid changes that can occur within a storm, affecting its structure and stability, and help meteorologists improve forecasting and forecasting models.



Once in orbit, the CubeSats satellites will act in concert as a constellation to provide rapid updates of microwave observations of the storms.

during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane seasonThere were so many tropical storms and hurricanes that meteorologists ran out of names on the preset list and had to switch to the Greek alphabet – and then The same thing happened again in 2021said Ben Kim, executive program manager in NASA’s Earth Sciences Division.

in 2022, Three hurricanes hit the United StatesBut Hurricane Ian alone caused more than $100 billion in damage and caused more than 100 deaths, Kim said.

“The Tropics program aims to improve our scientific understanding by obtaining microwave observations that allow us to see the internal structure of the storm nearly every hour,” Kim said. “These observations will complement existing weather satellites and eventually can be linked to a broader understanding of the entire Earth system.”

Data collected by TROPICS will be shared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Joint Hurricane Warning Center, the National Hurricane Center and other partners. The satellites will measure water vapor that’s primarily in the troposphere, or the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere, where most weather occurs.s.

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“The exciting thing about this is its ability to see inside storms, but also the ability to see how storms change over short periods of time,” said Dr. Will McCarty, program scientist in NASA’s Earth Sciences Division.

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