As anyone who has ever been caught in a sudden and unexpected downpour knows, gaps still exist in our knowledge about the behavior and movement of precipitation, clouds and storms. An upcoming satellite mission from NASA and the Japanese Space Agency aims to fill in those gaps both in coverage and in scientists' understanding of precipitation.
The Global Precipitation Measurement, or GPM, mission will set a new standard for precipitation measurements from space and it's doing so by joining forces with countries around the world, keeping not just one satellite's weather eye on the horizon, but nine.
"We need virtually continuous observation everywhere to construct a complete picture of precipitation around the globe, and that requires a lot of resources," says Arthur Hou, GPM project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Precipitation does not recognize national boundaries. It is in the best interest of every nation to pool resources together to make the best possible measurements through partnership."