Yesterday marked the launch of a new constellation of eight microsatellites, the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), designed to monitor hurricanes in Earth’s tropics. The constellation will provide unprecedented capability to monitor conditions inside hurricanes–information that will hopefully help scientists improve hurricane prediction models. Each CYGNSS microsat monitors GPS signals that it receives from the GPS satellite system and from the reflection of that signal off the Earth. By comparing these signals, the satellites can determine wave heights in the ocean, and from that wave information, they can measure surface wind speeds. By peering inside the hurricane as it forms and travels, scientists hope they will be better able to estimate not only a hurricane’s path but how strong it will be when it makes landfall. (Image credits: NASA)

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