Texas scientists building 'Nanosatellites' to track hurricanes
POSTED: Monday, June 25, 2012 - 9:59pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 9:29am
SAN ANTONIO — At just over 20 pounds...it's called a Nanosatellite.
Mission systems engineer Randy Rose tells KETK the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio recently won an award from NASA to build a group of 8 nanosats they'll launch into orbit that will help us better understand what's going on inside a hurricane.
"Up until now, we've had no ability to really look inside the hurricane other than with airplanes that fly over. But you know, they fly over in a very sparse and random manner so they can't loiter over a hurricane," Rose said.
Rose says once in orbit, the nanosats will get GPS signals from GPS satellites and from the Earth's surface...with the ability to see through all the rain.
The project is called CYGNSS. They're still in the planning stages...but hope to put the nanosats in orbit in 2016.
Basically the little guys will help predict where a hurricane is going...but mainly what it's going to do once it makes landfall.
We pretty much know where a hurricane's going, we don't know what its gonna do when it gets there so this should save lives and hopefully be able to better prepare the population for the hurricanes," Rose said.
KETK chief meteorologist Scott Chesner has been tracking Tropical Storm Debby for East Texans.
He says any new technology like this is a good thing.
"Anytime you can improve...you can increase the number of observations, you're gonna be able to increase the accuracy of the forecast in greater detail and again timing wise as well, so it should definitely be a good thing in the long run," Chesner said.
Rose tells KETK this project is mainly focused on tropical cyclones...but there are many possibilities for this technology in the future...wind information, soil information...maybe even being able to predict landslides and tsunamis.