GULF OF MEXICO (KPEL News) - States along the Gulf Coast may be able to get faster and more accurate information about tropical storms and hurricanes, thanks to a new series of satellites being launched by NASA.

These CubeSats - small, rectangular satellites about the size of a loaf of bread - are being launched from New Zealand and will fly in low orbit, collecting data from tropical systems as they develop and move across the ocean.

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Photo by NASA via Getty Images

The new satellite system is being called "TROPICS," which stands for "Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats."

According to CNN, two of these satellites have been launched and more are on the way.

The first two CubeSats lifted off from Māhia, New Zealand, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The first mission was nicknamed “Rocket Like a Hurricane,” while two additional CubeSats, nicknamed “Coming to a Storm Near You,” will launch from the same location in about two weeks.

Together, the four satellites, each weighing 12 pounds and about the size of a loaf of bread, will observe tropical cyclones from low-Earth orbit.

Once all of them are in orbit, the tiny satellites will form a constellation that makes more frequent observations than current weather-monitoring satellites.

In a statement, Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said that “The need for improved climate and weather data from space is acute and growing. Hurricanes and tropical storms have a devastating effect on lives and livelihoods, so we’re immensely proud to be entrusted by NASA to launch the TROPICS missions which will enable scientists and researchers to accurately predict storm strength and give people time to evacuate and make plans."

“With the 2023 hurricane season fast approaching, time is of the essence for these missions," the statement added.

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ESA/NASA via Getty Images

The data that will be collected by TROPICS will be shared with several agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, and the National Hurricane Center.

The plan is for those satellites to measure water vapor in the troposphere (the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere).

What Will the 2023 Hurricane Season Look Like?

Colorado State University's Seasonal Hurricane Forecasting team in April predicted 13 named storms, six of which could be hurricanes. Of those six, two are expected to be "major" hurricanes. The reason for the slightly below-average season is due to the development of an El Nino system that could impact the development of storms.

However, the forecast team at the University of Arizona released its hurricane season forecast last week, and it's predicting a season similar to 2017. That's the year that produced Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.


The key factor in both forecasts is the expected formation of an El Nino weather pattern, which could make ocean waters warmer, but also create weather patterns that disrupt hurricane formation.

The list of names used for storms is rotated every year. This year's storm names are Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.

Hurricane Preparation, What Are the Items You Didn't Think Of?

When there is word that a hurricane might threaten the Gulf Coast, we start thinking about what items we need to make life bearable if we end up stuck at home without electricity and internet.
In addition to these creature comforts, we also need to think about the many things that we would need to take with us if we are forced to evacuate.
While we all immediately think of things like prescription medicines and important papers, there are other things that can come in handy whether we will be stuck at home, at a relative's house, or in a shelter.

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