Advanced science.  Applied technology.

Preparing CYGNSS microsatellite for testing

CYGNSS Constellation Completed

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Engineering Technologist Jim Foster prepares one of eight CYGNSS microsatellites for testing in SwRI’s new 8-foot-diameter thermal-vacuum chamber.

NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission has reached a milestone in its goal of improving hurricane forecasting. SwRI has completed assembly of the eight microsatellites. Scheduled to launch in Fall 2016, CYGNSS will study the inner core of hurricanes in greater detail to better understand their rapid intensification.

Assembly of the microsatellites began in August 2015. The body of each satellite measures roughly 20×25×11 inches, which is slightly larger than a standard carry-on suitcase. When fully assembled, the satellites will each weigh about 64 pounds. With solar panels deployed, each microsatellite will have a wingspan of 5.5 feet.

“We’re thrilled to have met an important project milestone,” said John Scherrer, CYGNSS project manager at SwRI. “We are now conducting thermal testing in a new vacuum chamber; it’s exciting to see this mission come together. Help for the hurricane forecast community is now just around the corner.”

The goal of CYGNSS is to improve hurricane intensity forecasts. The  constellation of eight microsatellites will measure surface winds in and near the inner core of hurricanes, including regions beneath clouds and intense inner rain bands that could not previously be measured from space. 

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