Visualization of the GPM Core Observatory and Partner Satellites. GPM is slated to launch on Feb. 27 from Japan. Credit: NASA
See launch animation, Shinto ceremony, Rocket roll out and more below[/caption]
NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MARYLAND – Blastoff of the powerful and revolutionary new NASA/JAXA rain and snow precipitation measurement satellite atop a Japanese rocket from a tiny offshore island launch pad is now less than 24 hours away on Thursday, Feb. 27, EST (Feb. 28 JST).
The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory aimed at improving forecasts of extreme weather and climate change research has been given a green light for launch atop a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island off southern Japan.
Roll out of the H-IIA launch vehicle from the Vehicle Assembly Building is scheduled for this evening, Feb. 26 at 11 p.m. EST.
Update: rocket rolled out. Photo below, plus watch streaming NASA TV below.
Following the Launch Readiness Review, mission managers approved the GO for liftoff.
Japanese team members also prayed at a Shinto ceremony for blessings for a successful launch at the Ebisu Shrine, the first shrine in a traditional San-ja Mairi, or Three Shrine Pilgrimage on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 – see photo below.
However, the team also set a newly revised launch time of 1:37 p.m. EST (18:37 UTC, and Feb. 28 at 3:37 a.m. JST).
Mission managers adjusted the H-IIA launch time after concerns raised by a collision avoidance analysis between the GPM spacecraft and the International Space Station (ISS).
GPM will fly at an altitude of 253 miles (407 kilometers) above Earth – quite similar to the ISS.
It’s coverage runs over virtually the entire populated globe from 65 N to 65 S latitudes.
NASA plans live coverage of the launch on Feb. 27 beginning at 12 noon EST on NASA Television.
It will be streamed live at: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
The $933 Million observatory is a joint venture between the US and Japanese space agencies, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
GPM has a one-hour launch window. In case of any delays, the team will be required to conduct a thorough new collision avoidance analysis to ensure safety.
Weather forecast is excellent at this time.
Watch this GPM Launch animation:
Video caption: NASA/JAXA GPM Core Observatory Launch Animation
GPM is a next-generation satellite that will provide global, near real time observations of rain and snow from space. Such data is long awaited by climate scientists and weather forecasters.
It will open a new revolutionary era in global weather observing and climate science. Therefore it will have a direct impact on society and people’s daily lives worldwide.
The mission will significantly advance our understanding of Earth’s water and energy cycles and improve forecasting of extreme weather events.
The 3850 kilogram GPM satellite is equipped with two instruments – an advanced, higher resolution dual -frequency precipitation (DPR) radar instrument (Ku and Ka band) built by JAXA in Japan and the GPM microwave imager (GMI) built by Ball Aerospace in the US.
“The GPM satellite was built in house at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland,” Art Azarbarzin, GPM project manager, told Universe Today during my exclusive up-close clean room inspection tour of the huge satellite as final processing was underway.
Researchers will use the GPM measurements to study climate change, freshwater resources, floods and droughts, and hurricane formation and tracking.
“GPM will join a worldwide constellation of current and planned satellites,” Azarbarzin told me during an interview in the Goddard cleanroom beside GPM.
“GPM is the direct follow-up to the currently orbiting TRMM satellite,” Azarbarzin explained.
“TRMM is reaching the end of its usable lifetime. After GPM launches we hope it has some overlap with observations from TRMM.”
“The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) observatory will provide high resolution global measurements of rain and snow every 3 hours,” Dalia Kirschbaum, GPM research scientist, told me during an interview at Goddard.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing GPM reports and on-site coverage at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
And watch for Ken’s continuing planetary and human spaceflight news about Curiosity, Opportunity, Chang’e-3, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, LADEE, MAVEN, MOM, Mars, Orion and more.
A paper published in the journal Science in August 1981 made several projections regarding future climate change and anthropogenic global warming based on manmade CO2 emissions. As it turns out, the authors’ projections have proven to be rather accurate — and their future is now our present.
The paper, written by a team of atmospheric physicists led by the now-controversial James Hansen at NASA’s Institute for Space Studies at Goddard Space Flight Center, was recently rediscovered by researchers Geert Jan van Oldenborgh and Rein Haarsma from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). Taking a break from research due to illness, the scientists got a chance to look back through some older, overlooked publications.
“It turns out to be a very interesting read,” they noted in their blog on RealClimate.org.
Even though the paper was given 10 pages in Science, it covers a lot of advanced topics related to climate — indicating the level of knowledge known about climate science even at that time.
“The concepts and conclusions have not changed all that much,” van Oldenborgh and Haarsma note. “Hansen et al clearly indicate what was well known (all of which still stands today) and what was uncertain.”
Within the paper, several graphs note the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide, both naturally occurring and manmade, and projected a future rise based on the continued use of fossil fuels by humans. Van Oldenborgh and Haarsma overlaid data gathered by NASA and KNMI in recent years and found that the projections made by Hansen et al. were pretty much spot-on.
If anything, the 1981 projections were “optimistic”.
Hansen wrote in the original paper:
“The global temperature rose by 0.2ºC between the middle 1960’s and 1980, yielding a warming of 0.4ºC in the past century. This temperature increase is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect due to measured increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Variations of volcanic aerosols and possibly solar luminosity appear to be primary causes of observed fluctuations about the mean rend of increasing temperature. It is shown that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide warming should emerge from the noise level of natural climate variability by the end of the century, and there is a high probability of warming in the 1980’s. Potential effects on climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climate zones, erosion of the West Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage.”
Now here we are in 2012, looking down the barrel of the global warming gun Hansen and team had reported was there 31 years earlier. In fact, we’ve already seen most of the predicted effects take place.
And that’s not the only prediction that seems to have uncannily come true.
“In light of historical evidence that it takes several decades to complete a major change in fuel use, this makes large climate change almost inevitable,” Hansen et al wrote in anticipation of the difficulties of a global shift away from dependence on carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels.
“CO2 effects on climate may make full exploitation of coal resources undesirable,” the paper concludes. “An appropriate strategy may be to encourage energy conservation and develop alternative energy sources, while using fossil fuels as necessary during the next few decades.”
As the “next few decades” are now, for us, coming to a close, where do we stand on the encouragement of energy conservation and development on alternative energy sources? Sadly the outlook is not as promising as it should be, not given our level of abilities to monitor the intricate complexities of our planet’s climate and to develop new technologies. True advancement will rely on our acceptance that a change is in fact necessary… a hurdle that is proving to be the most difficult one to clear.
Read van Oldenborgh and Haarsma’s blog post here, and see the full 1981 paper “Climate Impact of Increasing Carbon Dioxide” here. And for more news on our changing climate, visit NASA’s Global Climate Change site.