This morning at 8:37AM EST, a NASA rocket was launched carrying 8 small satellites to help with hurricane intensity forecasting - specifically to capture wind speeds across Earth's oceans. This NASA mission is known as CYGNSS (Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System) and will also be incorporating modern GPS technology for multi-coordination between the satellites. We already use what is called ASCAT (Advanced Scatterometer), which creates systematic data "swaths" across the oceans on a global scale by using microwaves to beam down to the surface and reflect back information from a current cross-section of the surface. These new micro-satellites will enable us to dial in to each system as they occur in their environments vs. waiting to "get lucky" with a swath that just happens to make it across a tropical cyclone, or a part of it during the typical operational orbit schedule.
Here is a current depiction of the systematic orbital swaths we see now on a descending pass. The colored ribbons represent the swaths of data that give us the most recent wind speeds.
And here is the zoom-in on the area I placed an arrow pointing to in the pic above. You can see how partial the data is, but it still helps us greatly.
The new constellation of CYGNSS micro-satellites will be able to "paint" a better picture for us by focusing these swaths over only the tropics in order to capture more data (especially closer to the center of systems). According to the mission information, there should be a satellite passing over the same region every 12 minutes. More about the CYGNSS Mission: https://www.nasa.gov/cygnss/the-science-of-cygnss
Pegasus XL Rocket Launches with CYGNSS Spacecraft out of NASA Kennedy...
....and the video that shows each pair of micro-satellites being deployed with cheering (no audio) from the NASA team signifying the success of the mission. NASA may post their full launch video soon, so we'll update here when it happens.
Great job to the Southwest Research Institute, the Space Physics Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan College of Engineering in Ann Arbor (and its Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering department) and of course the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
Cheers and Happy Holidays!
Shea Gibson WeatherFlow Meteorologist
Carolina Weather Group Panelist Main Focuses: SE Region/East Coast/Tropics Twitter: @WeatherFlowCHAS