Hurricane Sandy as viewed by the TRMM Precipitation Radar at 2:20 EDT on Oct. 28, 2012. Credit: NASA
Satellite imagery and data has been invaluable in predicting the path and intensity of storms like Hurricane Sandy. Satellites like NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) can measure rainfall rates and cloud heights in tropical cyclones, and was used to create a 3-D image, above, to allow forecasters to look inside the hurricane, and predict fairly spot-on what locations would be affected the worst. There’s even a 3-D video view from the CloudSat satellite, and much more, including a stunning wind map, and this round-up from JPL of various satellite views of the storm. You can also see a slideshow of NASA satellite images and videos on the NASA Goddard Flickr site.
This exemplifies just one reason why space exploration is important, and why people are maybe now starting to realize how our failure to plan ahead and invest in weather satellites may become a problem. Without those eyes in the sky we are blind to the minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour development of storms and weather, not to mention overall study of the climate.
Below is a stunning high-speed satellite view from the GOES-14 satellite:
Focusing just on the area of the storm, the GOES-14 Super Rapid Scan Operation (SRSO) captures infrared and visible data every minute and relays that information to forecasters on the ground. This animation shows the GOES-14 SRSO for October 29, 2012 as Hurricane Sandy approached the U.S. coastline.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.