Let’s take a look at another mission helping to further the study of tropical storm systems– the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). A joint mission between NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), TRMM is designed to improve our understanding of precipitation in the tropics. Working in coordination with other NASA Earth observing satellites, TRMM helps to build a better understanding of the relationships between water vapor, clouds, and precipitation, leading to a better understanding of Earth’s climate as a whole.
TRMM carries five instruments: the Precipitation Radar (PR), the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI), the Visible and InfraRed Scanner (VIRS), the Cloud and Earth Radiant Energy Sensor (CERES), and the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS). Together these instruments provide powerful data on the inner workings of tropical storm systems, some of which are available in real-time, to improve storm forecasts as well as predictions of the damage these might cause to populated areas. The PR is capable of providing 3-D maps of storm structure, up to a height of about 12 miles (20 kilometers). Below is an animation of information collected using this instrument – this brief video shows rainfall within Hurricane Humberto:
If you follow our NASA ESW social media accounts, you have probably already seen the colorful image below. This map was created with information gathered from TRMM, showing rainfall totals from Tropical Storm Manuel:
The information TRMM is collecting is critical to learning more about how precipitation and storm systems relate to Earth’s climate. These data can also be used to anticipate damage related to very strong storms.