Constellation of six satellites to track cyclones every hour and advance the study of climate change


As climate change leads to more intense and dangerous extreme events, NASA is preparing to launch the first two in a series of six satellites to study the formation and development of tropical cyclones. These satellites will observe these events nearly every hour about four to six times more often than is possible with current satellites.

The two satellites will be launched on June 12 as part of the TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) mission. The US space agency aims to spread the six satellites across three orbital planes to cover more of the planet more frequently.

The remaining satellites will be placed into orbit in two subsequent launches this year. The satellites will not be the same as the NOAA-20 satellite which revisits a storm once every four to six hours.

“TROPICS will give us very frequent views of tropical cyclones, giving insight into their formation, intensification and interactions with their environment and providing critical data for storm monitoring and forecasting,” said Scott Braun, meteorologist. researcher, in a press release.

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The Tropics constellation aims to provide scientists with more frequent updates, supplementing data collected by existing low Earth orbit weather satellites and allowing scientists to see every storm from start to finish. The satellites will be placed at an angle close to 30 degrees above the equator in different low Earth orbits.

“This will maximize the time the satellites spend over the part of Earth where most tropical cyclones form a horizontal band stretching from the mid-Atlantic region of the United States to the southern coast of Australia, roughly between 38 degrees north and south latitudes,” NASA said in a statement.

The satellites will be equipped with a microwave radiometer to measure emissions and atmospheric frequencies, returning information about temperature, precipitation, humidity and other characteristics of the storm and the surrounding atmosphere. The satellite will thus be able to develop three-dimensional images of the event.

“With the TROPICS constellation, we will have much more frequent sightings of tropical cyclones, and in wavelengths that can help us understand the thermodynamic structure in the eye and in the environment of the storm,” Bill said. Blackwell, principal investigator of the TROPICS mission.

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When the six-satellite constellation finally reaches orbit, it will join the TROPICS Pathfinder satellite, a proof-of-concept CubeSat launched in June 2021 that has captured images of several tropical cyclones, such as Hurricane Ida over the United States. -United. , cyclone Batsirai over Madagascar and super typhoon Mindulle over eastern Japan.


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