Earth Observation Mission News
NASA’s CYGNSS satellite constellation enters science operations phase
31 March 2017
NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) -- a constellation of eight microsatellites that will take detailed measurement of windspeeds inside hurricanes -- successfully completed the development and on-orbit commissioning phases of its mission on March 23 and moved into the science operations phase. The spacecraft have now begun their science instrument calibration and validation and are on track to deliver the first science data in May, just in time for the start of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.
The CYGNSS spacecraft, launched into low-inclination, low-Earth orbit over the tropics on December 15, will make frequent measurements of ocean surface winds in and near a hurricane's inner core, an area that up until now has proven impossible to probe accurately from space. CYGNSS is able to measure the surface winds using GPS signals reflected by the ocean surface, which are able to penetrate through the intense rain in a storm's eye wall.
Image credit: NOAA/NASA/University of Michigan - Illustration of wind measurements on ocean surface by CYGNSS