In DepthRemote Sensing

‘David and Goliath’ weather eyes set for launch

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Science  17 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6365, pp. 848-849
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6365.848

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The polar weather satellite system will soon be safer. After years of rising costs and delays, the $1.6 billion Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) was set to rocket into orbit this week. If successful, the launch will still fears that a failure of the JPSS-1’s aging predecessor would cripple the armada of polar satellites that provide 85% of the input data for weather forecast models. Hitchhiking on board the same rocket that is carrying the 4-meter-tall JPSS-1 is a strikingly smaller and cheaper probe that is a harbinger of a yet more resilient weather satellite system. The $3 million Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration—classed as a CubeSat because its components are stuffed into a stack of three 10-centimeter cubes—carries a cloud-penetrating microwave sensor that rivals one on the much bigger and costlier JPSS-1.