NASA Launches Fleet Of Micro Satellites To Help Protect People From Hurricanes And Storms
In a first, NASA will launch an Earth science small satellite constellation next month to help scientists better understand weather patterns, as well as to forecast hurricane intensity, track, and storm surge.
The premiere space agency, NASA, announced that the fleet will take off on Dec. 12, 2016, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Its primary objective will be to monitor the weather systems from space and send reliable data to the handlers on Earth so they can timely predict the potential path and intensity of an incoming hurricane, allowing the inhabitants of the would-be target region to prepare or evacuate well ahead of time.
Dubbed as the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), the fleet will comprise eight microsatellites, each designed and developed by NASA to track and measure wind speeds.
Despite being small, the power of these microsatellites should not be underestimated, NASA representatives pointed out. Collectively, they can gather four wind measurements each second.
"This is a first-of-its-kind mission," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "As a constellation of eight spacecraft, CYGNSS will do what a single craft can't in terms of measuring surface wind speeds inside hurricanes and tropical cyclones at high time-resolution, to improve our ability to understand and predict how these deadly storms develop."
CYGNSS is significantly more advanced than most of other hurricane-tracking systems in use today. NASA has stated that the microsatellite fleet has the ability to penetrate even the heaviest of rains, which can send more accurate data that will eventually play a key role in reducing the loss of life and property in extreme weather conditions.
In addition, CYGNSS is also technologically equipped to read a hurricane's eyewall that can fetch scientists a useful insight into the intensity of the inner core of an approaching storm.