NASA has selected Rocket Lab to launch the Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission, as part of the agency’s Venture-class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) launch services contract.
Rocket Lab will launch the TROPICS mission, which is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Programme and consists of four CubeSats in two low-Earth orbital planes, into their operational orbit within a 60-day period. These two dedicated missions will launch on Electron rockets from Launch Complex 2 within the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launches are scheduled to take place no earlier than May 1, 2023.
The TROPICS constellation targets the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes. TROPICS will provide rapidly updating observations of storm intensity as well as the horizontal and vertical structures of temperature and humidity within the storms and in their surrounding environment. These data will help scientists better understand the processes that affect these high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modelling and prediction.
Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO, said: “This year we once again witnessed the devastating effects of hurricanes and tropical storms on lives and livelihoods, underscoring the importance of improved climate data from space to enable scientists and researchers to accurately predict storm strength and give people time to evacuate and make plans. The TROPICS satellites need a responsive and reliable path to orbit to equip people with near real-time, actionable weather data and Rocket Lab is honoured to provide a dependable launch solution as we approach the 2023 hurricane season. We look forward to working closely with the team at NASA to deliver mission success once again.”