Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


CYGNSS passes major review milestone

Posted: March 14, 2014

CYGNSS passes major review milestone

The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) recently passed NASA’s Key Decision Point-C, formally confirming the mission to move forward with implementation of the instrumentation, satellite vehicle and, ultimately, launch of the eight microsatellites comprising the mission.

Weather models help forecasters accurately predict the path of hurricanes and cyclones, but cannot reliably predict their intensity. The CYGNSS mission, which was conceived at the University of Michigan, will place a constellation of eight microsatellites into low-Earth orbit. Using GPS signals to measure ocean surface properties and derive moist atmospheric thermodynamics, radiation and convective dynamics, CYGNSS will determine how a tropical cyclone forms and if and by how much it will strengthen, thereby helping to advance forecasting and tracking methods.

Several members of the University of Michigan community are involved with the mission. Professor Chris Ruf is the principal investigator (PI), Professor Derek Posselt is the deputy PI and Professor Aaron Ridley is the constellation scientist. In addition, space physics research laboratory (SPRL) research engineer Bruce Block is the mission technical director and fellow SPRL engineer Damen Provost is the U-M project manager.

CYGNSS is the second award, and first award for space-based investigations, in the Earth Venture-class series of rapidly developed, cost-constrained projects for NASA’s Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington DC. The Earth Venture missions are part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program. The small, targeted science investigations complement NASA’s larger research missions. NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., manages the Earth System Science Pathfinder program.

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