In 1997, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA launched a satellite designed to monitor the distribution and variability of precipitation in the tropics. More than 16 years later, that satellite--the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)--has some new company. On February 28, 2014, at 3:37 a.m. Japan Standard Time, an H-IIA rocket successfully carried the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory into orbit from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.
The nosecone fairing (protecting GPM from the drag of the atmosphere) was jettisoned four minutes after launch, and the spacecraft began transmitting telemetry to mission operators at Goddard Space Flight Center five minutes later. GPM separated from the rocket 15 minutes after launch and successfully deployed its solar arrays within 40 minutes. The satellite will assume a non-Sun-synchronous orbit 253 miles (407 kilometers) above Earth.
The new satellite has two main sensors: the Global Precipitation Imager (GPI) and the Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR). GMI is a microwave radiometer that will observe precipitation with 13 different microwave channels ranging in frequency from 10 GHz to 183 GHz. The DPR consists of a Ku-band precipitation radar (KuPR) and a Ka-band precipitation radar (KaPR) that will provide three-dimensional observations of rain and also will provide an accurate estimate of rainfall rates. (Full article: Earth Observatory)Posted by Daniel Orozco at February 27, 2014 11:49 PM