Rocket Lab Successfully Launches CubeSats for NASA’s TROPICS Mission to Improve Tropical Storm Forecasting
Rocket Lab, a small satellite launch company, has successfully launched two CubeSats for NASA's TROPICS mission. The mission, known as Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats, aims to improve the forecasting of tropical storms, including hurricanes. The CubeSats are part of a constellation of four that will monitor the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones and provide rapidly updating observations of storm intensity. This data will help scientists better understand high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modelling and prediction. The second launch of CubeSats for the mission is expected to take place in the coming weeks.
The initial plan was to launch six satellites; however, the first two were lost in an Astra launch mishap last year. To meet NASA's deadline for the TROPICS fleet to be operational during the Northern Hemisphere storm season, the remaining four satellites were transferred to Rocket Lab.
Rocket Lab's founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said that the need for improved climate and weather data from space is acute and growing, and that hurricanes and tropical storms have a devastating effect on lives and livelihoods. The TROPICS mission will enable scientists and researchers to accurately predict storm strength and give people time to evacuate and make plans.
Scientists can gain a better understanding of the rapid changes that occur within a storm and the impact on its structure and stability, by utilizing more frequent data. This can also aid meteorologists in improving their prediction and forecasting models.
Rocket Lab has been working to make its Electron's first stage reusable, recovering boosters on several previous flights. In the third quarter of 2023, the company intends to release a previously-owned Rutherford engine.
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