NASA completes its constellation of satellites to monitor hurricanes

With these satellites , NASA will be able to reduce from 6 to only 1 hour the wait to know the movement of cyclones and hurricanes in the North Atlantic.

NASA this weekend launched the latest pair of a quartet of satellites designed to track tropical cyclones on an hourly basis, a project that could improve weather forecasts for devastating storms .

An Electron rocket from Rocket Lab company lifted off from Mahia in northern New Zealand with two new satellites on board.

The same American company had already launched two other satellites at the beginning of the month .

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said he was “proud” of the success of these two launches.

Just in time

The constellation has consequently been able to be deployed “in time for the 2023 storm season,” it said in a statement.

The satellites are the size of a shoebox and will evolve at an altitude of about 550 kilometers.

They will have the capacity to pass every hour over tropical cyclones – called hurricanes in the North Atlantic, or typhoons in the Pacific – against six hours currently.

The information collected by the mission, called TROPICS , on rainfall, temperatures and humidity levels, would make it possible to improve weather forecasts.

It will be possible to know, for example, where a hurricane will make landfall and with what intensity, which will help to warn the populations of the places involved in time and organize eventual evacuations.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), both in the United States, will greatly benefit from this new data.

“As a Florida resident I know how important timely and accurate weather forecasts are to millions of Americans,” NASA Chief Bill Nelson said in a statement.

The constellation was originally going to have six satellites instead of four, but the first two were lost when a rocket from the US company Astra suffered damage shortly after liftoff last year.

As the surface of the oceans warms, hurricanes become more powerful, scientists say.

Hurricane Ian, which devastated Florida in 2022, claimed dozens of lives and caused more than $100 billion in damage, making it by far the world’s costliest weather disaster on record last year. (AFP)