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26 Mar 2014: New Satellite Tracks Global
Precipitation in Unprecedented Detail

Click to Enlarge
GPM cyclone image

NASA/JAXA
Cyclone cross-section
Launched into space late last month, a new Earth-observing satellite from NASA and the Japan space agency has captured its first images, which show an extra-tropical cyclone off the coast of Japan at unprecedented resolution. The satellite, called the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, combines two powerful instruments that allow scientists to monitor precipitation around the globe in great detail, as the cyclone image demonstrates. One instrument, the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar, captured a three-dimensional cross-section of the storm, with the heaviest precipitation shown in red and yellow. The second tool, a GPM Microwave Imager, observed different types of precipitation across a broad swath of the storm. Together, the instruments will help scientists develop more accurate rain predictions and calculate how much precipitation falls to the Earth's surface. "All this new information comes together to help us better understand how fresh water moves through Earth's system and contributes to things like floods and droughts," said NASA project scientist Gail Skofronick-Jackson.

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