CYGNSS (Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System ) launched an aircraft similar to a commercial airliner carried a Pegasus rocket to about 40,000 feet and then released it. Boosters then propelled the rocket into space, where it deployed eight small satellites into orbit to provide better hurricane predictions back here on Earth. The eight micro-satellites are each about the size of a typical microwave oven. The mission was launched 8:37 a.m EST last Thursday, Dec. 15.
Dr. Chris Ruf, a professor at the University of Michigan and the principal investigator of CYGNSS, expressed how excited they are because this will be the first time ever that satellites can look into the middle of hurricanes and predict their intensity when they make landfall.
"The launch of CYGNSS is a first for NASA and for the scientific community," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "As the first orbital mission in our Earth Venture program, CYGNSS will make unprecedented measurements in the most violent, dynamic, and important portions of tropical storms and hurricanes." See NASA report New NASA Hurricane Tracking Mission on Track.
CYGNSS is the first orbital mission selected by NASA's Earth Venture program, which is managed by the Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program Office at NASA's Langley Research Center in, Virginia. This program focuses on low-cost, science-driven missions to increase our understanding of the current state of the earth and its dynamic, complex system and enable continuous improvement in the prediction of future changes.
With better data and therefore better forecasts, this will allow meteorologists to provide lifesaving guidance on the destructive winds and storm surges ahead of hurricane landfalls. Unlike existing weather observation satellites, which pass over an existing hurricane once to 2x a day, CYGNSS satellites will provide "new measurements of the winds every 12 minutes" for any storm in the tropical belt.
See related CNN report NASA to launch tiny satellites to measure hurricane winds. See also SpaceX Falcon 9 News; NASA Wants Tesla Elon Musk To Hire More People; Space Launching Pushed Back; Facebook Mark Zuckerberg Not Thrilled?