Friday, 28 February 2014, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is set to launch the H-IIA rocket carrying a Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) core. The GPM observatory was developed by Japan and the United States for the purposes of monitoring global rainfall, working in conjunction with other orbiting satellites, at a cost of $933-million. The GPM satellite will collect its own data and combine its data with that gathered from the other satellites.
Meteorologists working with the data hope to see advancements in abilities to predict floods, typhoons, and other extreme weather, eventually improving global responses to weather conditions. The GPM satellite is also expected to improve accuracy of weather reports, with the ability to update information every three hours and a system designed to track approximately 95-percent of global precipitation. NASA also explains the GPM will give scientists a better “understanding of…water and energy cycles.”
According to the NASA GPM status updates, the rocket preparations have begun. Preparations involve loading the propellants, which include liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. With preparations for launch underway, the launchpad in Japan is now restricted to a 400-meter radius.
Koichi Wakata, a Japanese astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station, tweeted his hopes for a smooth launch on Friday. The launch will take place at 3:37am, local time in Japan, from the Tanegashima Space Center. More information about the Global Precipitation Measurement is available on the NASA website.