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GPM satellite flying on its own power after launch from Japan

GPM satellite launches aboard Japanese rocket, Feb. 27, 2014.
GPM satellite launches aboard Japanese rocket, Feb. 27, 2014.
NASA/Bill Ingalls.

The NASA-JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was successfully launched this afternoon from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. The satellite was launched aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket, and is an international project designed to provide “…next-generation observations of rain and snow worldwide every three hours.”

Liftoff was at 1:38 p.m. Thursday, Florida time. The Mission website said the protective nosecone fairing around the satellite separated and fell away from the spacecraft at 1:42 p.m. The main engine of the rocket was set to burn for around two and a half minutes afterwards, to take the satellite to a higher altitude. Mission Operations Control at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland said the Observatory was sending data successfully to them at 1:47 p.m., and the satellite was reported to be “…flying on its own in orbit…” at 1:53 p.m.

Solar panels take over powering satellite

NASA said the satellite would be on battery power until the two solar panels on the spacecraft deployed. At 2:18 p.m. Thursday, NASA reported that the solar arrays had deployed successfully and were pointed at the sun. Engineers said the arrays were collecting power, rotating properly, and charging the batteries to supply power to the satellite.

Satellite will improve hurricane forecasts

In a previous press release NASA said the GPM would “…calibrate precipitation measurements made by an international network of partner satellites to quantify when, where, and how much it rains or snows around the world.” NASA Earth Science Division Director Michael Freilich said, “Knowing rain and snow amounts accurately over the whole globe is critical to understanding how weather and climate impact agriculture, fresh water availability, and responses to natural disasters." The space agency also says Florida residents will benefit from the ability of the GPM to provide, “Extended capabilities in monitoring and predicting hurricanes and other extreme weather events.”

Click here to visit the GPM website.

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