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The TRMM rainfall mission comes to an end after 17 years

09 April 2015

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In 1997 when the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, or TRMM, was launched, its mission was scheduled to last just a few years. Now, 17 years later, the TRMM mission has come to an end. NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) stopped TRMM's science operations and data collection on 8 April after the spacecraft depleted its fuel reserves.

TRMM observed rainfall rates over the tropics and subtropics, where two-thirds of the world's rainfall occurs. TRMM carried the first precipitation radar flown in space, which returned data that were made into 3-D imagery, enabling scientists to see the internal structure of storms for the first time.

TRMM also carried a microwave imager, a state-of-the-art instrument that had the highest resolution images of rainfall at the time. Together with three other sensors - the Visible and Infrared Scanner (VIRS), the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS), and the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument - scientists used TRMM data to explore weather events, climate, and Earth's water cycle.

The cutting-edge TRMM instruments arrived in orbit at the right time to take advantage of the explosion of computing power and major advances in data-sharing.

Source: National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA)

Image credit: NASA - Artist's concept of TRMM

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