Technology

Microsatellites can help warn of the next major hurricane

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The Tropics satellite constellation will reduce this lag, providing new, detailed observations of every 16 to 24 km area of ​​low latitudes every 30 to 40 minutes. “You basically always let a new satellite fly over your storm and make new new measurements, capturing all the dynamics and observing what changes are happening, as well as temperature and humidity fields and precipitation and rain bands,” Bill Blackwell said. The lead researcher of the project.

In order to achieve this, nanosatellites must be launched into a very special orbital configuration. In early 2022, three independent rocket-sharing vehicles assisted by startup launch suppliers will send two units at a time AstraEach pair of satellites will share an orbit at an angle of 30 degrees to the equator, located on the other side of the earth, but following the same trajectory. When all three pairs are in orbit, they will cross the equator at different points, just like the movement of three shaky tops. This unique paired satellite configuration tracking global staggered paths will allow more frequent coverage of any location in the tropics. (The test unit will also continue to operate in orbit as the seventh member of the team, but will be mainly used for research and experimentation, and may provide additional storm support as needed.)

Courtesy of MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Each unit is equipped with a microwave radiometer, so researchers and forecasters will be able to see phenomena that are invisible to the naked eye, such as water vapor and temperature information. Once the data is sent back to Earth, it will be directly connected to the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center and input into the numerical weather forecast model.

Tropical project scientist Scott Braun said that for tropical cyclones, forecasters pay attention to the minimum pressure and maximum wind speed of the storm. These key variables help define storm intensity, and having more real-time data can make the predictions of these models more accurate. He said that continuous data on storm intensity “will help understand things such as rapid increase and decrease, and how this relates to the evolution of precipitation.”

A few NOAA researchers have tested the validity of these additional data.in a paper Published in the American Meteorological Society Monthly weather review (And already online), a team conducted a virtual pre-test of the new system. “Basically, you perform a computer simulation of a tropical cyclone, and then extract from the simulation the data you wish to obtain from the new observing system,” said Robert Roberts, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Miami’s Hurricane Research Division. Rogers (Robert Rogers) said. Co-author of the paper. “Ideally, you will see an improvement in the forecast.”

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