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NASA launches 8 small satellites to detect hurricanes


12-16-2016 05:41 BJT

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. space agency NASA on Thursday launched a constellation of eight small satellites designed to aid weather forecasters in understanding and predicting hurricane intensity.

The eight observatories comprising the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) were delivered to a low-Earth orbit by the U.S. aerospace firm Orbital ATK's Pegasus XL rocket at 8:37 a.m. EST (1337 GMT).

The rocket and its microsatellite payload were air-launched from Orbital ATK's modified L-1011 aircraft, nicknamed Stargazer, which first flew to about 39,000 feet (12,000 meters) over the Atlantic Ocean and then released the rocket.

NASA said the 157-million-U.S.-dollar CYGNSS mission will team up with the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation to measure ocean surface winds in and near the eye of the storm throughout the lifecycle of hurricanes.

"This will be the first time that satellites can peer through heavy tropical rainfall into the middle of hurricanes and predict how intense they are before and during landfall," the space agency added.

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