Press Release

NASA Extends TRMM Operations Through 2004 Hurricane Season

By SpaceRef Editor
August 5, 2004
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NASA Extends TRMM Operations Through 2004 Hurricane Season

NASA will extend operation of the Tropical Rainfall
Measuring Mission (TRMM) through the end of 2004, in light of a
recent request from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). The extension, to be undertaken jointly
with NASA’s TRMM partner, the Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency (JAXA), will provide data during another storm season in
the U.S. and Asia.

TRMM has yielded significant scientific research data over the
last seven years to users around the globe. In addition, TRMM
data has aided NOAA, other government agencies, and other users
in their operational work of monitoring and predicting rainfall
and storms, as well as in storm research. Launched in 1997,
TRMM was originally designed as a three-year research mission.
Following four years of extending TRMM, NASA and JAXA recently
announced a decision to decommission TRMM, and proceed with a
safe, controlled deorbit. Options for safe re-entry become
increasingly limited the longer TRMM is operated, as it is
already more than 3 years beyond design life.

“NASA is committed to working with our partner agencies to help
them carry out their mission. We have decided to extend TRMM
through this year’s hurricane season in our effort to aid NOAA
in capturing another full season of storm data,” said Dr.
Ghassem Asrar, Deputy Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science
Mission Directorate. “The United States is a leader in Earth
remote sensing, and NASA is proud of our role in building that
leadership. Our work in partnership with NOAA and international
partners such as JAXA is an important part of the world’s
scientific research on global precipitation and weather. TRMM
has been a valuable part of that legacy and we look to our
follow-on missions to continue to reap great public benefit,”
he added.

TRMM is the first satellite to measure rainfall over the global
tropics, allowing scientists to study the transfer of water and
energy among the global atmosphere and ocean surface that form
the faster portions of the Earth’s climate system. Because
TRMM’s radar enables it to “see through” clouds, it allows
weather researchers to make the equivalent of a CAT-scan of
hurricanes and helps weather forecasters to use TRMM data to
improve prediction of severe storms.

“TRMM has proven helpful in complementing the other satellite
data used by NOAA’s National Weather Service in its
operations,” said Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L.
Johnson, Director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

JAXA welcomes and supports the decision to extend TRMM. The
extension will be of benefit to the worldwide science and
research communities. NASA and JAXA look forward to continuing
their close collaboration beyond TRMM through establishment of
a new advanced capability for the measurement of precipitation
globally with the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission
(GPM). GPM will use an extensive ground validation network to
further improve the accuracy of its measurements compared to
those made by TRMM.

NASA and NOAA have asked the National Academy of Sciences to
convene a workshop next month to advise NASA and NOAA on the
best use of TRMM’s remaining spacecraft life; the overall risks
and benefits of the TRMM mission extension options; the
advisability of transfer of operational responsibility for TRMM
to NOAA; any requirement for a follow-on operational satellite
to provide comparable TRMM data; and optimal use of GPM, a
follow-on research spacecraft to TRMM, planned for launch in

“It’s important to note that we are able to extend TRMM for
this brief period and are vigilant in maintaining our
requirement for a safe, controlled re-entry and deorbit of the
spacecraft,” said Asrar. “We also welcome the opportunity to
receive advice from the National Academy of Sciences next month
on the best use of TRMM’s remaining spacecraft life, TRMM re-
entry risk, and the best use of our upcoming next-generation
research spacecraft, GPM,” he added

NASA and NOAA will work with the National Academy of Sciences
to share with the public outcomes from next month’s workshop.

For more information about TRMM on the Internet, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.