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Four terrestrial missions to unravel the science behind storms, dust and climate systems in 2022

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NASA has announced four new missions that will examine the fundamentals of global climate systems, including extreme storms, surface water, oceans and atmospheric dust. Earth observation satellites will provide high-quality data on the Earth’s interconnected environment, from air quality to sea ice.

The four missions include a series of six small satellites for improved and rapid measurements of tropical cyclones; trace the origin and composition of mineral dust that can affect the climate, ecosystems, air quality and human health; forecast extreme weather conditions including floods, forest fires, volcanoes; and assess the world’s oceans and their role in climate change.

NASA said these four missions will improve the ability to monitor our changing planet. These missions are:

UNDERSTANDING THE SCIENCE BEHIND TROPICAL CYCLONES

The Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Small Satellites (TROPICS) mission aims to improve tropical cyclone observations with six satellites working together to provide microwave observations . The satellites will provide key data on a storm’s precipitation, temperature and humidity as quickly as every 50 minutes.

The constellation’s exploration or proof of concept satellite has already started operating and in June 2021 it collected data from Hurricane Ida. NASA said the TROPICS satellites will be deployed in pairs of two on three different launches, which are expected to be completed by July 31, 2022. The satellite, which will be the size of a loaf of bread, will carry a micro radiometer instrument. -miniaturized waves. Traveling in pairs in three different orbits, they will collectively observe the Earth’s surface more frequently than current weather satellites.

An illustration of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). JPSS is a collaborative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA. (Photo: Nasa)

FOCUS ON MINERAL DUST

The Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) mission is the first instrument to use imaging spectroscopy technology invented by NASA to comprehensively measure the mineral composition of dust source regions of the Earth’s drylands. He will study the balance between the energy that comes from the Sun to the Earth and the energy that the Earth sends back into space.

According to scientists, air-blown mineral dust is an important part of the Earth’s system. Wind blows dust into the atmosphere from desert regions around the world and can carry dust across oceans. Dark minerals that absorb sunlight can warm the Earth, while light-colored minerals can cool it. By accurately mapping the makeup of areas that produce mineral dust, EMIT will advance our understanding of the effects of dust throughout the Earth system and on human populations today and in the future.

OBSERVE EXTREME STORMS

As climate change results in extreme weather events, high intensity storms are expected to become more frequent in the coming years. The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) mission will bring together global measurements of atmospheric, land and ocean conditions, including sea and land surface temperatures, vegetation, clouds, precipitation, snow and ice cover , locations of fires and smoke plumes, atmospheric temperature, water vapor and ozone.

It will provide data for rapid forecasting of severe weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards several days in advance, and assess environmental risks such as droughts, forest fires, poor quality of the harmful air and coastal waters. It will also ensure the continuity of critical global observations of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land until 2038.

GLOBAL OCEANS SURVEY

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will conduct the world’s first survey of Earth’s surface waters and study small-scale ocean currents. A collaboration between NASA and the French space agency Center National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the SUV-sized satellite will collect data on the height of Earth’s salt and fresh water, including oceans, lakes and rivers, allowing researchers to track the volume and location of water around the world.

“SWOT will address the prominent role of the ocean in our weather and climate change and the consequences for the availability of freshwater on land,” said Dr. Lee-Lueng Fu, SWOT Project Scientist at NASA JPL in a press release.


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