Hurricanes are somewhat a common occurrence in the US, with one visiting the nation every few years. One organization who wants to better prepare for this extreme weather phenomenon is NASA. The space agency will launch a number of hurricane-tracking satellites to understand and better anticipate their arrival.
Previously, NASA was focusing its efforts on enhancing the asteroid-predicting capabilities of satellites in order to better prepare ourselves in case one with a trajectory to Earth emerges. Now the organization has unveiled their plan to launch a network of small satellites, which according to them is similar to a constellation. The lift-off is scheduled for December 2nd of this year.
They will work in unison to provide the US with faster predictions of a storm surge and track the intensity of hurricanes. The satellites are capable of monitoring various weather systems from space. This function will allow them to anticipate the formation and potential path of a hurricane in order to allow more time for residents to prepare or evacuate.
The official name of the constellation of satellites is The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS). They will be launched from NASA’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Base launch pad located in Florida. The network is composed of 8 eight small satellites that have advanced weather measuring capabilities. Each one can take four wind speed measurements every second.
Other capabilities of the CYGNSS network which makes it the most advanced hurricane-tracking system is that it’s able to penetrate the heavy rains and provide a more accurate reading of the weather phenomenon. Additionally, it can even read a hurricane’s eyewall. This can help scientists measure the exact intensity of the core of the storm.
Currently, because scientists can’t see beyond the heavy rains, they used computer models to predict what is happening, which have poor accuracy. The CYGNSS main purpose is to address this insufficiency.
For the management of the satellites and the overall mission, NASA has requested help from both the Southwest Research Institute and the Space Physics Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. They started the CYGNSS project back in 2017. The satellites will be deployed into the low-orbit using the Pegasus XL rocket made by Orbital ATK.
Image source: Wikipedia