by Dr. Ken Kremer, AAAP and Universe Today
NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MARYLAND – A next generation US/Japanese weather observatory aimed at gathering 3D measurements of global rain and snowfall rates thundered to orbit during a spectacular night time blastoff from the Tanegashima Space Center, Tanegashima Island, Japan. The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory launched at 1:37 p.m. EST (3:37 a.m. JST Friday, Feb. 28) atop Japan’s H-IIA rocket.
GPM will directly benefit society with improved weather forecasts and climate change research. Researchers will use the data to study freshwater resources, floods and droughts, hurricane formation and tracking. It will enable more advanced warnings of extreme weather conditions like superstorm Sandy and help identify and determine the effects of global climate change.
“GPM will provide high resolution global measurements of rain and snow every three hours. It’s precipitation measurements will look like a CAT scan,” Dr. Dalia Kirschbaum, GPM research scientist, told me during a prelaunch interview in the cleanroom at NASA Goddard. “The radar can scan through clouds to create a three dimensional view of a cloud’s structure and evolution.”
The four-ton GPM is the lead observatory of a constellation of nine advanced weather research satellites contributed by the US, Japan, Europe and India. It is the first satellite to measure light rainfall and snow in addition to heavy tropical rainfall.
“GPM is the direct follow-up to the currently orbiting TRMM satellite,” GPM Project Manager Art Azarbarzin told me in a prelaunch interview in the cleanroom. “TRMM is reaching the end of its usable lifetime, and we hope GPM has some overlap with observations from TRMM.”
For more about GPM read my articles here:
The next Antares/Cygnus rocket launch from nearby Virginia to the ISS is set for May 1. Contact Ken if interested to attend.
NASA’s next generation Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) observatory inside the clean room at NASA Goddard during my exclusive prelaunch tour. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Astronomy Outreach by Dr. Ken Kremer
Washington Crossing State Park, Nature Center: Titusville, NJ, Apr 6, 1 PM. “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars – (in 3-D)”and “May 1 Antares Launch from Virginia”
Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF): Suffern, NY, Apr 12 & 13. “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars – (3-D)” and “Future of NASA Human Spaceflight”
Antares Rocket Launch to ISS, May 1: NASA Wallops Island, VA. Evening outreach at Rodeway Inn, Chincoteague, VA.