NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have released the first images captured by their newest Earth-observing satellite, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, Global Rain and Snowfall Satellite. Watch the video…
Launched into space on Feb. 27, the new mission will study rain and snow from the tropics to the southern edge of the polar regions. GPM also will anchor an international network of satellites that can make global precipitation observations roughly every three hours.
GPM’s unique capability to monitor all types of precipitation is apparent in the images above, which show precipitation inside an extratropical cyclone in the northwest Pacific Ocean on March 10, 2014. Captured approximately 1,700 kilometers (1,055 miles) east of Japan, the images include the first space-based radar view of an extratropical cyclone.
”It was really exciting to see this high-quality GPM data for the first time. I knew we had entered a new era in measuring precipitation from space,“ said project scientist Gail Skofronick-Jackson. ”We can now measure global precipitation of all types, from light drizzle to heavy downpours to falling snow.“
The image above comes from the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) and shows precipitation across a broad swath of the atmosphere. The colors depict the rain rate; red areas indicate heavy rainfall, while yellow and blue indicate less intense rainfall. The blue areas in the upper left indicate falling snow. GPM has the first satellite sensors specifically designed to measure falling snow and light rainfall.
Extratropical cyclones occur when masses of warm air collide with masses of cold air in the mid-latitudes (beyond the tropics). These storm systems can produce rain, snow, ice, high winds, and severe weather. In the image above, the warm front ahead of the center of the cyclone shows a broad area of precipitation falling as rain, with a narrower band of precipitation associated with the cold front trailing to the southwest. Snow occurs in the northern reaches of the storm.