Friday, February 28, 2014

NASA and JAXA Launch Satellite To Measure Polar Precipitation

A Japanese H-IIA rocket with the NASA-JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core
Observatory onboard, launches from the Tanegashima Space Center in Tanegashima, Japan.
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

GREENBELT, Maryland -- NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched an Earth-observing satellite at 1:37 p.m. EST on Thursday from Japan to observe and measure precipitation in the Arctic and Antarctic Circles.

The four-ton Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was launched aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in southern Japan. 

"With this launch, we have taken another giant leap in providing the world with an unprecedented picture of our planet's rain and snow," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "GPM will help us better understand our ever-changing climate, improve forecasts of extreme weather events like floods, and assist decision makers around the world to better manage water resources."

According to NASA, the GPM Core Observatory will take a major step in improving upon the capabilities of the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM), a joint NASA-JAXA mission launched in 1997 and still in operation. While TRMM measured precipitation in the tropics, the GPM Core Observatory expands the coverage area to Earth's polar regions. 

The GPM Core Observatory is the first of NASA's five Earth science missions launching this year.