All Weather News

NASA Launches 8-Satellite Constellation to Track Hurricanes from Space (CYGNSS)

15 Dec 2016, 12:17 pm

Since 1990, the forecast accuracy of hurricane tracks has improved by about 50 percent, but in the same time, intensity forecasts have improved very little. That could be about to change. Now with CYGNSS, the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, eight very small satellites will take accurate measurements of ocean surface winds in and near the eyes of storms during the entire lifecycle of tropical systems.

Instead of sitting atop a rocket on the ground, CYGNSS is launched from the belly of an L10-11 airplane, on a Pegasus Rocket. It’s a very compact, super-efficient system, deploying all eight satellites from a single launch vehicle.

For decades, we’ve counted on the hard work and commitment of the NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters to fly mission after mission directly into storms to gather data, now CYGNSS will add a new source for forecast-improving, potentially lifesaving data. Doctor Chris Ruf from the University of Michigan’s Space Physics Research Laboratory, is excited about the possibilities…

“CYGNSS, the type of measurements it makes are very similar to the hurricane hunter airplanes. It makes measurements cutting through the hurricane very often. Having CYGNSS on orbit will be like having a fleet of hurricane hunter airplanes distributed everywhere in the tropics!”

This system will be the first of it’s kind, to actually be able to look into the middle of hurricanes and predict how strong they’ll be when they make landfall. With this year’s launch of the new GOES-R satellite, now in orbit as GOES-16 and the eight CYGNYSS birds in formation 316 miles up, we have the best tools we’ve ever had for weather prediction, watching over us from space.

For WeatherNation: John Van Pelt

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