NASA and Rocket Lab successfully launched two CubeSats for storm-tracking into orbit, after an initial launch was called off in April due to weather disruptions in New Zealand. The mission, TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats), had a two-hour launch window.


TROPICS is a mission that consists of four identical CubeSats aimed at observing tropical cyclones. These CubeSats will collect data more frequently than traditional weather tracking satellites. The first two satellites were launched using the Electron orbital launch vehicle developed by Rocket Lab. The second set of satellites will be launched in about two weeks.

CubeSats and Their Advantages

CubeSats differ from traditional weather tracking satellites in the frequency at which they make observations. Collecting data more frequently allows scientists to improve their weather forecasts. The CubeSats in the TROPICS constellation will provide rapid-refresh microwave measurements over the tropics that can be used to observe the thermodynamics of the troposphere and precipitation structure for storm systems at the mesoscale and synoptic scale over the entire storm lifecycle.

Significance of the Mission

The observing system of TROPICS offers an unprecedented combination of horizontal and temporal resolution to measure environmental and inner-core conditions for tropical cyclones on a nearly global scale, serving as a model for future missions.



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