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BY GEORGE: New Eye In The Sky

NASA has recently launched an earth-observing satellite that will test new technologies aimed at improving weather forecasts and monitoring climate change.

The satellite will spend the next five years circling the Earth from pole to pole about a dozen times a day. Data will be transmitted to a ground station in Norway and routed to the U.S. via fiber-optic cable.

NOAA meteorologists will be able to feed the data into weather forecast models to better predict the development and movements of tropical systems, including tropical storms and hurricanes. The data will also aid meteorologists in determining which areas of disturbed weather in the tropics might eventually develop into a tropical depression and maybe beyond.

The satellite data will also aid in forecasting the development of severe storms over land, including potentially severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. One of the areas of intense research is focused on which severe thunderstorms actually produce tornadoes, and meteorologists hope the new data they will receive will aid in determining which thunderstorms eventually become severe, and which of those develop rotation and possibly tornadoes.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) already had a fleet of satellites circling the Earth, taking measurements of the atmosphere, clouds, and the oceans. But many are aging and need to be replaced. The latest satellite carries five different types of instruments to collect environmental data, including four that never before have flown into space.

One of the satellite’s main jobs is also to test key new technologies that will eventually be used by the next generation of satellites set to launch in a few years.

By: George Elliott

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