NASA and Rocket Lab are targeting no earlier than 1:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 p.m. NZST) Monday, May 22, for the launch of the agency’s TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) mission, on an Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 in Māhia, New Zealand.
The launch will place a pair of CubeSats in low Earth orbit, and they will join another pair of TROPICS satellites that made it to orbit last week after launching on an Electron rocket from New Zealand. Together the four satellites will orbit in two equally spaced orbital planes, which will distribute them for optimal coverage over the tropics. The orbiting TROPICS constellation of satellites will study the formation and development of tropical cyclones, known as hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the West Pacific, making observations of temperature, precipitation, water vapor, and cloud ice more often than what is possible with current weather satellites. They they will join the TROPICS Pathfinder satellite, in orbit since its launch in June of 2021.
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