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NASA, JAXA Launch Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory

jaxa-nasa3 March 2014: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported that the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) jointly launched the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, a four-ton spacecraft that was launched into space from Japan at the end of February.

The observatory aims to gather information that “unifies and improves data from an international constellation of existing and future satellites by mapping global precipitation every three hours.” It will also improve upon the joint NASA-JAXA Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM), launched in 1997, which is still in operation. While TRMM measured precipitation in the tropics, GPM expands coverage to the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, and will be able to detect light rain and snowfall.

GPM contributes to the WMO's space-based Global Observing System (GOS) and Committee on Earth Observation Satellites Precipitation Constellation. GPM data will inform such WMO areas as agricultural meteorology, hydrology and climate monitoring. GPM will also: contribute to research on precipitation formation, the hydrological cycle, and climate change and variability; help improve forecasting of tropical cyclones and extreme events; and strengthen water resource management and food security.

Speaking about the launch, Wenjian Zhang, Observing and Information Systems Department, WMO, underscored that GPM would advance understanding of the global water and energy cycle, as well as of the climate system. [WMO Press Release] [NASA Announcement] [JAXA Announcement]