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NASA mission tasked with watching tropical storms set to take flight this weekend

Astra Space's Rocet 3.3 stands ready to launch TROPICS-1 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Astra Space
Astra Space's Rocet 3.3 stands ready to launch TROPICS-1 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

A pair of milk-jug sized satellites are set to launch into space this weekend on a mission to observe tropical storms from above. The two satellites will make up a larger constellation of half a dozen spacecraft called TROPICS which will peer down on the Earth and observe the development and behavior of tropical cyclones like hurricanes.

TROPICS, which in NASA-speak means Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats, is a part of the agency’s efforts to examine the effects of climate change from orbit.

Climate change is warming ocean temperatures, fueling the development of tropical storms. The six satellites known as CubeSats that make up TROPICS will observe that behavior using a slew of coffee-mug sized sensors.

“They will collect high resolution observations of precipitation and storm intensification, particularly over the oceans,” said NASA’s Karen St. Germain. The observations by TROPICS will prove near-hourly data of a storm’s precipitation, temperature and humidity

“They will provide soundings of temperature and moisture in the atmosphere and give us rapid refresh — we’ll be able to see how storms intensify.”

Scientists like those at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can use the data collected by TROPICS to better understand that intensification and provide better forecast models.

Private rocket company and Space Coast newcomer Astra Space is launching the mission from Cape Canaveral on its Rocket 3.3 launch vehicle. Its first launch attempt from Florida back in February failed to get its payload into orbit, but a mission launched from the company’s Alaska launch site in March was a success.
Copyright 2022 WMFE

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