NASA Plans To Deploy Micro Satellites To Help Forecast Hurricanes: How Will It Work


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to deploy a total of eight microsatellites dubbed as the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS in space to help forecast incoming hurricanes. Through this plan, a pioneering system will soon enable experts to measure the surface winds of the oceans in and close to the core of the tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons during its entire cycle.

The microsatellites will be situated along the orbital perches about 317 miles above the Earth and will be positioned 35 degrees to the equator. The network of satellites will then pick up data from the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite signals that are transmitted through the storm and sent directly back into space. As the surface of the oceans scatter during the typhoons or hurricanes, both reflected and direct signals are sent up and the GPS receivers of the satellites will measure these changes, which will provide scientists with insights about the speed of the winds, hurricane directions, intensities, storm surges and other valuable information.

The CYGNSS is looking at providing hurricane forecast data every after a few hours by providing a new image of the tropical winds as it orbits around the GPS satellites. Because the data are processed from time to time, data collection about the planet's winds, possible typhoons and hurricanes stay up to date and monitoring of experts are enhanced.

The ability to predict the swift changes in the intensity, directions and wind speeds, among many others may help scientists improve their monitoring activities, which is critically essential to communities. During the hurricane Katrina, the strength of the storm had died down; however, it still caused massive destruction, which may even be more disastrous if not forecasted. This goes to show that although existing systems are highly advanced, unexplained mysteries remain. Hence, NASA and space researchers are specifically drawn to the new ideas of improved weather forecasting and tracking systems to help save lives and protect humanity.

The microsatellites will undergo initial testing in early 2016 before it will send via the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The authorities are hoping that the system will be fully operational by 2017, when the Atlantic hurricane season begins.

Photo: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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