NASA launches two small satellites to monitor hurricanes

NASA launches two small satellites to monitor hurricanes

A second rocket, which will carry two more satellites, should be launched within 15 days.

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Satellite image of Hurricane Roslyn over Mexico on October 23, 2022, taken by the US Meteorological Agency NOAA.  (Jose Romero/NOAA/RAMMB/AFP)

Two NASA satellites to monitor the development of hurricanes took off from New Zealand on Monday, May 8, aboard a rocket from the American company Rocket Lab. The two devices, the Cubesats, weigh about five kilograms and will operate at an altitude of about 550 kilometres. A second rocket launch is scheduled in 15 days, and will carry two more satellites.

The mission, called Tropics, will be able to pass hourly over hurricanes (or typhoons in the Pacific), as opposed to every six hours currently, the details Program website (in English). These satellites will not allow scientists anymore “Just to watch what happens at a particular moment (…) but to see how things really evolve hour by hour”explained at a news conference by Will McCarty, a scientist at NASA.

“We will always need the big satellites, he added. But what we can get from this mission is additional information over that of the major satellites that we already have.” This information gathered about precipitation, temperature and humidity can help improve weather forecasts, particularly where a hurricane will make landfall and with what intensity, thus better preparing for potential evacuations of coastal populations. In the long term, a better understanding of the formation and evolution of these storms will lead to improved climate models.

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