Spaceborne precipitation radar ships from Japan to U.S.

Feb 09, 2012 By Steve Cole and Rani Gran
A JAXA scientist standing next to the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instrument for the GPM Core Observatory satellite. The Japanese-built radar is a new instrument designed to take 3-D measurements of raindrops and snowflakes. Credit: NASA / JAXA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Japanese scientists and engineers have completed construction on a new instrument designed to take 3-D measurements of the shapes, sizes and other physical characteristics of both raindrops and snowflakes. The instrument will be shipped from Japan to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., to be integrated into an upcoming NASA Earth science satellite.

Designed and built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency () and Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar is one of two instruments that will fly aboard NASA's Core Observatory for the Global (GPM) mission.

The will provide insights into a storm's physical structures. Its data will not only expand our knowledge of precipitation science, the Earth's , and the supply of fresh water around the world, it also will aid forecasts of hurricanes, floods and other .

The instrument is the first space-borne radar to use both Ku and Ka bands in the microwave range of frequencies to study precipitation. It obtains three-dimensional information about precipitation droplets by measuring reflected energy by these particles at different heights within the clouds. The 'dual' in the radar's name refers to the way the two microwave bands of the instrument complement each other, allowing the radar to provide new information about the size distribution of raindrops and snowflakes as they fall.

After the instrument arrives at Goddard in March, engineers will integrate both the radar and another instrument, the NASA-supplied GPM (GMI), onto the main body or 'bus' of the mission's Core Observatory. After extensive testing, the satellite will then be shipped to Japan for launch in 2014.

"Knowing the global distribution of precipitation is critical for predicting weather and for understanding the roles of water in defining the Earth's climate," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate. "The measurements from GPM will provide unique insight into the atmospheric processes that generate and control precipitation, as well as the impacts of rain and snowfall on the availability of fresh water for all of the Earth's inhabitants."

GPM's three-dimensional observations of rain and snow will usher in a new generation of space-based observations of global precipitation, a key element of the Earth's climate. The mission will extend to global scales the space-based measurement of precipitation initiated by the NASA-JAXA Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) in 1997.

"This mission will provide rain and snow measurements of unprecedented accuracy worldwide, every three hours," said Arthur Hou, GPM mission scientist at Goddard. "This joint mission builds on the continued success of TRMM and our strong collaboration with JAXA. The GPM Core Observatory will serve as a new standard to unify measurements from the GPM constellation of satellites, which includes missions by the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) of France, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and other U.S. and international partners operating both research and operational satellites."

This international network of satellites is part of the GPM mission concept in which they work in concert providing next-generation global observations of rain and snow. The NASA Core Observatory is the centerpiece of this constellation.

Explore further: Mars, Saturn and the claws of Scorpius

More information: For more information about GPM, visit: www.nasa.gov/gpm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

JPL radar treks to great white north to study snow

Jan 18, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Beginning Jan. 17, NASA will fly an airborne science laboratory, including a unique airborne radar built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., above Canadian snowstorms to ...

Mysteries of Rain and Snow

Mar 05, 2007

People have lived with rain and snow for millennia, and scientists have studied weather for more than a century. You might think that, after all that time, we would have precipitation pretty much figured out. ...

NASA mission seeks to uncover a rainfall mystery

Apr 27, 2011

Scientists from NASA and other organizations are on a mission to unlock the mysteries of why certain clouds produce copious amounts of rain. In a field mission that is now under way, aircraft are carrying ...

NASA Extends TRMM Operations Through 2004 Hurricane Season

Aug 06, 2004

NASA will extend operation of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) through the end of 2004, in light of a recent request from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The extension, to be und ...

Recommended for you

Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

54 minutes ago

When Saturn is at its closest to Earth, it's three-quarters of a billion miles away—or more than a billion kilometers! That makes these raw images from the ringed planet all the more remarkable.

SpaceX gets 10-year tax exemption for Texas site

1 hour ago

Cameron County commissioners have agreed to waive 10 years of county taxes as part of an agreement bringing the world's first commercial site for orbital rocket launches to the southernmost tip of Texas.

Voyager map details Neptune's strange moon Triton

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager's historic footage of Triton has been "restored" ...

How the sun caused an aurora this week

4 hours ago

On the evening of Aug. 20, 2014, the International Space Station was flying past North America when it flew over the dazzling, green blue lights of an aurora. On board, astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this ...

User comments : 0