US space agency NASA launched a constellation of eight small satellites on Thursday designed to aid weather forecasters in understanding and predicting hurricane intensity.
The eight observatories comprising the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) were delivered to a low-Earth orbit by the US aerospace firm Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL rocket at 8.37 a.m. (local time),
The rocket and its micro-satellite payload were air-launched from Orbital ATK’s modified L-1011 aircraft, nicknamed Stargazer, which first flew to about 39,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean and then released the rocket.
NASA said the $157 million CYGNSS mission will team up with the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation to measure ocean surface winds in and near the eye of the storm throughout the life cycle of hurricanes.
“This will be the first time that satellites can peer through heavy tropical rainfall into the middle of hurricanes and predict how intense they are before and during landfall,” it added.