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the tropical rainfall measuring mission and vern suomi 's vital roleThe Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission was a new concept of measuring rainfall over the global tropics using a combination of instruments, including the first weather radar to be flown in space. An important objective of the mission was to obtain profiles of latent heat in order to initialize large-scale circulation models and to understand the relationship between short-term climate changes in relation to rainfall variability. The idea originated in the early 1980's from scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center/NASA who had been involved with attempts to measure rain with a passive microwave instrument on Nimbus 5 and had compared its results with rain falling in the area covered by the GATE1 radar ships. Using an imaginary satellite flying over the GATE ships, scientists showed that a satellite with an inclined orbit of 30-35 degrees could obtain monthly rainfalls with a sampling error of less than 10 percent over 5 degree by 5 degree areas. The Japanese proposed that they could build a nadir-scanning rain radar for the satellite. Vern Suomi was excited by this mission from the outset, since he recognized the great importance of adequate rainfall measurements over the tropical oceans. He was a charter member of the Science Steering Team and prepared a large part of the Report. While the mission attracted strong support in the science community, it was opposed by some of the high-level NASA management who feared its competition for funds with some much larger Earth Science satellites. Vern was able to overcome this opposition and to generate Congressional support, so that the Project finally got underway on both sides of the Pacific in 1991. The paper will discuss the design of the satellite, its data system and ground validation program. TP.NM was successfully launched in late 1997. Early results will be described. 1 GATE stands for GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment and GARP stands for Global Atmospheric Research Program.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Simpson, Joanne
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Kummerow, Christian
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Meteorology and Climatology
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.