Electron rocket on the launch pad in Mahia, New Zealand on January 21, 2018.
NASA on Friday launched the latest pair of a quartet of satellites designed to track tropical cyclones on an hourly basis, a project that could improve weather forecasting for devastating storms.
An Electron rocket from Rocket Lab Company was launched from Mahia in northern New Zealand with two new satellites.
The same American company had already launched two other satellites at the beginning of the month.
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said he was “proud” of the success of these two launches.
The constellation has been able to deploy “in time for the 2023 hurricane season,” it said in a statement.
The satellites are the size of a shoe box and will be developed at an altitude of about 550 km.
They will have the ability to pass over tropical cyclones every hour – called hurricanes in the North Atlantic, or typhoons in the Pacific – as opposed to six hours at present.
The information collected by the mission, called Tropics, on rainfall, temperature and humidity levels will improve weather forecasting.
For example, it would be possible to know exactly where and with what intensity a hurricane will make landfall, which would help to warn the population of the places involved in time and organize eventual evacuation.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), both in the United States, will greatly benefit from this new data.
“As a Florida resident, I know how important timely and accurate weather forecasts are to millions of Americans,” NASA chief Bill Nelson said in a statement.
The constellation was originally supposed to have six satellites instead of four, but the first two were lost when a rocket from the US company Astra was damaged shortly after liftoff last year.
Scientists say that as the surface of the oceans warms, storms become more powerful.
Hurricane Ian, which ravaged Florida in 2022, killed dozens of people and caused more than $100 billion in damage, making it the world’s costliest weather disaster on record last year.