Earth Observation Mission News
The TRMM rainfall mission comes to an end after 17 years
09 April 2015
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.
Image credit: NASA - Artist's concept of TRMM