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Hurricane Forecasting to be Aided by Mini-Satellites

Rendition of CYGNSS operation
Posted at 4:30 PM, May 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-29 13:08:07-04

(WTXL) -- Though hurricane forecasting techniques have improved by leaps and bounds over the past two decades, additional tools are in the works to refine outlooks even further.

Engineers from the University of Michigan are working along with NASA to launch the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, also known as CYGNSS.

CYGNSS will consist of eight "micro-satellites" that will measure wind speeds over the oceans, taking information based on GPS satellite signals.

This method of measurement is expected to result in broader measurement coverage of the Earth, with the ability of the satellites in the system passing over a point on the Earth every 12 minutes, at a lower overall cost than previously technology.  The more rapid scans can produce imagery used for forecasting every few hours, rather than every few days using only one satellite.

The mini-satellites will maintain a focus on tropical regions of the Earth to provide a greater concentration on areas more prone to tropical cyclone development and impact.

The mission to launch CYGNSS is scheduled for late 2016 from Cape Canaveral, and the system is set to be in operation for a minimum of two years.