Satellites see hurricane winds despite military signal tweaks

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Science  14 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6445, pp. 1019
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6445.1019

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A constellation of eight microsatellites has harvested data that—if folded into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather models—could have sharpened forecasts of several recent hurricanes, including Michael, a category-5 storm in October 2018. But progress was hard-won for scientists on NASA's $157 million Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), who discussed early results at a meeting in early June. In January 2017, soon after launch, the U.S. military began to regularly fluctuate the signal power of its GPS satellites, which CYGNSS uses to measure hurricane winds. The NASA team has fixed the problem on the fly, and the constellation has been used to study, beyond hurricanes, the evaporation that feeds the Madden-Julian oscillation and soil moisture on land.