On Monday, NASA launched two small satellites from a station in New Zealand to monitor tropical cyclones hour by hour as part of a study that could improve weather forecasts for catastrophic storms.
Thanks to a rocket built by the US company Rocket Lab and launched into orbit, the new storm trackers can fly above hurricanes (or typhoons in the Pacific) every hour, as opposed to every six hours with existing satellites.
Speaking at the press briefing on the first launch of the TROPICS mission, NASA scientist Will McCarty stated that researchers can monitor the development of storms hourly.
He continued: “We still need large satellites. In this way, we have the opportunity to update our current flagship satellites with new data.
A second rocket lab-built vehicle, to which two more satellites will be added, is scheduled to launch in about two weeks to complete the small suite of four storm-monitoring satellites.
To properly prepare coastal residents for possible evacuations, scientists can use rainfall, temperature, and humidity data to predict where and how hard a hurricane will land.
Ben Kim, a program manager at NASA, said several operational organizations, including the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and the National Hurricane Center, are ready to receive tropical images to help with their forecasts.
With a better understanding of the formation and development of these storms, long-term improvements in climate models may be possible.
Instead of the six originally planned for the constellation, four were used because the first two were destroyed shortly after launch last year as a result of the malfunctioning of a US Astra rocket.
According to scientists, typhoons and hurricanes are getting stronger as the ocean surface warms.
Hurricane Ian, which ravaged Florida in 2022, caused many casualties and more than $100 billion in damage. It was by far the most costly air disaster of the year worldwide.
📩 08/05/2023 11:56