Synonymous Platform Names:
LEO > Low Earth Orbit > Inclined Non-Polar
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The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (or TRMM) is a NASA satellite that provides more information both to test and to improve those models. TRMM is particularly devoted to determining rainfall in ... the tropics and subtropics of the Earth. These regions make up about two thirds of the total rainfall on Earth and are responsible for driving our weather and climate system. TRMM contributed to a better understanding of where and how much the winds blow, where the clouds form and rain occurs, where floods and droughts will occur, and how the winds drive the ocean currents. TRMM accomplished this not just by providing rainfall data but, more importantly, by providing information on heat released into the atmosphere as part of the process that leads to rain.
TRMM was launched on November 27, 1997, on the Japanese H-II vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Center in Tanegashima, Japan. Continuous science data collection began December 8, 1997. Upon completion of the nominal 3-year prime mission, the decision was made to boost the mission from its original altitude of 350km to 402.5km, to reduce fuel consumption and extend the mission life. The TRMM boost was completed August 24, 2001, and the orbit was maintained until 2014, when fuel was depleted and the spacecraft began to descend. Mission operations were terminated in April 2015, the spacecraft re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and mostly burned up in June 2015.
TRMM exceeded its 3-year design goal by collecting 17 years of rainfall data, creating a benchmark rainfall climatology which is used to test, compare and improve global climate models. The TRMM dataset of rain distribution across the tropics has narrowed considerably the range of uncertainty in previous space-based rainfall estimates. The choice of a precessing, low-inclination orbit (35°) enabled the quantification of the diurnal cycle of precipitation and convective intensity over land and ocean tropics-wide on fine scales (0.25°). TRMM products have provided the first comprehensive estimates of how rainfall is directly related to latent heat release in the atmosphere, a key characteristic in understanding the impact of tropical rainfall on the general circulation of the atmosphere. Based on hydrometeor vertical structure information from the TRMM active and passive sensors, TRMM produced climatologies of latent heating profiles for analysis and comparison with global models. In addition, the lightning sensor delivered a detailed global map of lightning distribution, and combined with the rain data, led to quantifying the lightning/convection relation for land and ocean.
Launch: Launched: November 27, 1997
Launch Site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
Orbit: Altitude: 402 km
Inclination: 35 degrees
Period: 92.6 minutes
Vital Statistics: Weight: 3512 kg
Power: 1100 watts
Design Life: 3 years
CERES (Clouds and the Earth Radiant Energy System
LIS (Lightning Imaging Sensor)
TMI (TRMM Microwave Radiometer)
VIRS (Visible/Infrared Radiometer)
[Summary provided by NASA.]
Tanegashima Island, Japan