launched two satellites into low Earth orbit on Monday in the first part of a mission to better understand and track hurricanes and tropical cyclones.
Two of these small boxy satellites known as CubeSats were aboard a rocket which took off from Mahia in New Zealand, as part of TROPICS mission (Time-Resolved Observatory of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity With a Constellation of Smallsats).
The satellites were launched using the Electron orbital launch vehicle developed by .
TROPICS, when completed, will be a constellation consisting of four CubeSats that are identical and designed to monitor tropical cyclones. They’ll make observations much more often than the current weather satellites.
Gathering data more frequently can help scientists improve weather forecasting models.
The second set of two CubeSats should be launched in about two weeks also using Electron rockets from Rocket Lab, NASA TV reported.
What will TROPICS study?
TROPICS will study as part of NASA’s Earth Venture Class missions, which select targeted science missions to fill gaps in the understanding of systems on Earth.
What makes TROPICS unique is how the satellites orbit in formation, like stars.
This observing system offers an unprecedented combination of horizontal and temporal resolution to measure environmental and inner-core conditions for tropical cyclones on a nearly global scale, according to William Blackwell at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory who leads the TROPICS team.
“TROPICS will demonstrate that a constellation approach to Earth science can provide improved resolution, configurable coverage (tropics, near global, or global), flexibility, reliability, and launch access at extremely low cost, thereby serving as a model for future missions,” Blackwell wrote on the mission’s website.
With making extreme weather events more frequent, pose increasing risks to those living in the paths of the storms.
Scientists hope the TROPICS mission will reveal more about what drives the rapid changes in both the storm’s structure and and its intensity.
Edited by: Rebecca Staudenmaier
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