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NASA and JAXA's Precipitation Satellite to Improve Understanding of Earth's Climate

Dec 26, 2013 02:17 PM EST
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NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are teaming up to launch a new weather satellite in February, the duo announced Thursday.

Known as Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory satellite, the mission is designed to provide better observations of rain and snowfall throughout the globe, and in doing so, better scientists' understanding of the water and energy cycles behind Earth's climate.

The satellite is scheduled to launch aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket from the JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center on Feb. 27. The GPM satellite will collect data that will then be used to calibrate precipitation measurements devised by an international network of partner satellites. Together, they will be able to determine when, where and how much rain or snow is occurring worldwide.

"Launching this core observatory and establishing the Global Precipitation Measurement mission is vitally important for environmental research and weather forecasting," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington. "Knowing rain and snow amounts accurately over the whole globe is critical to understanding how weather and climate impact agriculture, fresh water availability, and responses to natural disasters."

The new satellite will be joining the ranks of the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership mission, launched in 2012 and the NASA-JAXA Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), launched in 1997, among others.

The GPM Core Observatory will be unique in its ability to observe rainfall and snowfall at 13 different frequencies and transmit radar frequencies to detect ice and both heavy and light rain. The satellite will also be able to measure the size and distribution of raindrops, snowflakes and ice particles.

"We will use data from the GPM mission not only for Earth science research but to improve weather forecasting and respond to meteorological disasters," said Shizuo Yamamoto, executive director of JAXA. "We would also like to aid other countries in the Asian region suffering from flood disasters by providing data for flood alert systems. Our dual-frequency precipitation radar, developed with unique Japanese technologies, plays a central role in the GPM mission."

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