Launched Tuesday to the space station, the COWVR and TEMPEST two instruments could lead the way to big improvements in gathering key information for weather forecasting.
The Compact Ocean Wind Vector Radiometer (COWVR) is no bigger than a minifridge. The Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems (TEMPEST) is even smaller – about the size of a cereal box. Yet these two compact science instruments are designed to do a big job: to make the same high-quality atmospheric observations as weather satellites many times their size and at a fraction of the cost.
Built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, the two radiometers are part of the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program-Houston 8 (STP-H8) and are headed to the International Space Station Tuesday as part of SpaceX’s 24th commercial resupply mission for the agency. They’re considered technology demonstrations, and if they perform as planned, weather forecasting could be in for a technological boost.
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