Storms happen all the time, but what does it happen when the storms are bigger, but the instruments meant to track them are getting smaller? It seems that NASA is currently testing some small satellites that have the size of a shoebox – they want them to monitor the global storms. The results are promising.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, together with the RainCube, wants to find out if the small satellites can give information about the weather faster, and, of course, at a lower cost. These mini-satellites, flying around together, can give some real insight about the inside of storms and they can track the movement of the rain, sleet and snow.
RainCube can see inside the storms
The RainCube has 26 pounds (that’s 12 kilograms). It has an antenna that’s in the form of an umbrella and it is of 1.6 foot (that’s 50 centimeters). This antenna sends out radar signals into the layers of the storm. The signal then echoes the raindrops and sends a photo from the inside of the storm. Of course, radar systems are very large, but the engineers could reduce the size and make it fit into a CubeSat, which is a class of nanosatellites. The smaller radar is also consuming less power.
RainCube was first deployed by NASA in July, and its goal was a 2-month mission. On Tuesday, NASA gave us the first image of a storm from Mexico from August. This month, we got a second set of pictures, from the rainfall of Hurricane Florence.
There are many experiments that gave us a lot of information, hence our weather forecasts are not as bad as they used to be. However, they don’t give a global view. There exist some weather satellites that give global view, but they cannot see inside the storm.