Tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes and typhoons, are some of the most devastating natural disasters. In efforts to better understand and predict these intense weather phenomena, NASA has created a constellation of CubeSats called TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats). TROPICS will monitor the atmosphere during the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season with the hopes of improving forecasting and ultimately, saving lives. Let’s dive into the details of this exciting mission.

CubeSats are small, square-shaped satellites weighing around 2.2 pounds. They’re typically used for low-cost space experiments and observations. TROPICS will be made up of four CubeSats that will operate in formation to create an integrated system for measuring precipitation, temperature, humidity, and other atmospheric variables. By working together, they’ll provide near real-time data and imagery for researchers to analyze.

The TROPICS mission will focus on studying the internal structure of tropical cyclones, including how they intensify and change in strength over time. The CubeSats will use microwave technology to observe the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere within a storm system. This data is crucial for weather forecasting because it helps scientists understand the mechanisms behind storm formation and intensification.

One of the main goals of the TROPICS mission is to improve hurricane forecasting, especially in developing countries where people are especially vulnerable to these weather events. By providing more accurate real-time data, the TROPICS CubeSats will give forecasters a better understanding of storm behavior, leading to more accurate evacuation recommendations and ultimately, saving lives.

In addition to forecasting improvements, the data collected by TROPICS will also be used to study the overall impact of tropical cyclones on climate change. Storms can have a significant impact on the ocean and atmosphere, and understanding this relationship is essential for climate modeling and policy decisions.


NASA’s TROPICS mission is an exciting development in the field of hurricane research. Through the use of CubeSats, we’re able to gather more data about these intense weather systems than ever before. The mission’s focus on forecasting improvements and the impact of climate change will lead to better preparation and more informed decision-making in the face of these deadly storms. We look forward to the discoveries TROPICS will make and the potential for lives saved in future hurricane seasons.

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