NASA to launch tiny satellites for hurricane tracking

By Trey Paul, Web Anchor
Last Updated: Thursday, November 10, 2016, 4:02 PM EST

Tracking hurricanes is about to be out of this world.

  • NASA to launch CYGNSS satellites Dec. 12
  • 8 tiny satellites are designed to track hurricanes
  • Satellites will take measurements every 90 minutes

NASA is set to launch a new fleet of small, hurricane-tracking satellites. The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, is a group of eight small satellites that will orbit the Earth.

“These satellites are going to be looking at hurricanes,” CYGNSS Project Manager John Scherrer said. “It will be the first time ever that satellites can peer into the middle of hurricanes and predict how strong they'll be when they make landfall.”

CYGNSS is scheduled to launch Dec. 12 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The satellites will be launch aboard a Pegasus XL rocket, which is deployed from the air aboard a plane.

Just like cell phones and computers, satellites seem to be getting smaller, too.

"It weighs about 64 pounds,” Scherrer said. “When the solar rays are stowed, it's about the size of a carry-on suitcase. And to me, that's one of the neatest things about this.

"We're doing real science with a spacecraft that can literally sit on your desk. Not just one of them, but we'll have eight. They'll be orbiting in the tropics where the hurricanes are, and every 90 minutes, they'll be making another measurement."