Monday, December 4, 2023

NASA’s TROPICS Constellation Fully Deployed

Final Two Satellites of NASA's TROPICS Mission Launch, Enabling Detailed Observation and Enhanced Forecasting of Tropical Cyclones

In a significant stride for meteorological science, the final pair of NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) have been successfully launched. This launch marks the completion of the TROPICS constellation, set to revolutionize our understanding of tropical cyclones.


The final two CubeSats of NASA’s TROPICS mission were successfully launched on May 25 from New Zealand. The TROPICS constellation will observe tropical cyclones, aiming to enhance forecasting for hurricanes and typhoons. With the complete deployment, the TROPICS satellites are set to provide unprecedented detail on these storms, tracking their formation, intensification, and movement.

The Successful Launch: An Achievement Unveiled

At 11:46 p.m. EDT, on May 25, an Electron rocket carrying the final pair of TROPICS smallsats was launched from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 Pad B in Māhia, New Zealand. By the early hours of May 26, signals from both satellites were successfully acquired, indicating their effective deployment in orbit. This launch followed a previous successful deployment of two other TROPICS satellites earlier in May, finally achieving the desired constellation.

A Powerful Tool for Tracking Tropical Cyclones

The TROPICS mission, constituting a constellation of four identical CubeSats, aims to improve our understanding and forecasting of tropical cyclones. These smallsats will orbit over Earth’s tropics, providing a frequency of observation significantly higher than current weather tracking satellites. William Blackwell, the mission’s principal investigator at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, anticipates that the improved observing capabilities will enhance our ability to predict cyclone track and intensity.

Implications for Weather Forecasting and Beyond

NASA’s TROPICS mission not only aids in weather forecasting but also has broad implications for disaster management and community safety. The enhanced data and forecasting will enable better preparation and response to hurricanes and typhoons, thereby reducing the devastating impact of these natural disasters.


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