GPM Anime Contest Webquest Part 3: Technology
So, are you thinking about creating an anime mascot for GPM? Do you need to learn a little more about the science and technology behind measuring precipitation?
Part 3: Technology
People have measured rain and snow for centuries. Basic instruments such as a container with markings on the outside can catch rain and measure how much has fallen. More specialized gauges can provide information about the size of raindrops and how wind may impact the measurements. Ground-based weather radar systems send out a pulse of energy into clouds and can tell us where and how heavy the rain, snow and hail is within our area. However, when we want to know what is happening outside of our city or town, we often rely on satellites orbiting above the earth to give us a bigger picture of rain and snow over the globe. Satellites like the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the Global Precipitation Measuring (GPM) mission use sophisticated instruments that can look at storms in 3-D and understand how rain and snow vary over both land and oceans around the world.
GPM is a mission that will follow a current mission, the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) that has been measuring precipitation in the tropics since 1997. As you watch the next video, consider the fact that with technology developed in the last decade since TRMM launched, GPM will improve and extend the abilities of the TRMM mission. With GPM, we will be able to measure both rain and snow across most of the globe every three hours.
Here is a video in which NASA scientists discuss why it is so important to study and track Earth's freshwater resources and what is the purpose of the Global Precipitation Measurement mission: http://pmm.nasa.gov/education/videos/gpm-freshwater-connection
Scientists and engineers have worked together to develop some pretty amazing tools that we can use to learn more about the processes that are continually shaping planet and impacting our daily lives. Find out what “hot towers” are and how they help scientists better understand hurricane formation: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003700/a003773/3413_Towers_in_the_Tempest-MASTER_high.mp4
To explore more about how satellites are used to help us understand and forecast weather, some interesting online activities are at: http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/satmet/index.html
Another fun site that will help you learn more about satellites in general can be found at: http://pmm.nasa.gov/education/interactive/build-it-yourself-satellite-game
Here is an engaging site that will take you to a virtual self-guided tour of NASA'a Goddard Space Flight Center satellite development. At this site, Goddard Chief Scientist Jim Garvin guides guests through the life cycle of NASA missions. The virtual tour showcases Goddard facilities and personnel and how they work together to transform a spacecraft from an idea into reality. The tour highlights seven phases: Idea, Design, Construction, Testing, Launch, Operations and Scientific Analysis: http://pmm.nasa.gov/education/interactive/goddard-virtual-tour-lifecycle-goddard-mission
This article explains how we use satellites technology to understand storms and how GPM’s technology will better enable us to do that in the near future: http://pmm.nasa.gov/science/storm-structure-and-mesoscale-dynamics
Here is a video clip that describes how GPM will measure snowfall: http://pmm.nasa.gov/video-gallery/gcpex-science-snow
GPM will carry two main instruments, the Microwave Imager (GMI) and the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR). These will enable us to measure global precipitation with increased accuracy and precision. Here are some video clips and articles that can give you additional information about these instruments:
Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar arrives at Goddard video: http://pmm.nasa.gov/education/videos/dual-frequency-precipitation-radar-arrives-at-goddard
Now see if you can answer these questions about GPM’s technology and instrumentation!
- What are the two main instruments on GPM’s Core Observatory?
- How will GPM extend the data we can already get from TRMM?
- Why do we need satellites to measure precipitation more accurately than land-based tools?