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The TROPICS constellation (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program. Each pair of CubeSats has be launched to two specific orbital planes that are equally spaced 180 degrees opposite each other to maximize temporal resolution.

These unique orbits over Earth’s tropics allow the satellites to travel over any given storm about once an hour, compared with current weather tracking satellites that have a timing of about once every six hours. This high revisit rate aims to help scientists better understand the processes that effect these high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modeling and prediction to help protect lives and livelihoods.

All four TROPICS satellites need to be deployed into their operational orbit within a 60-day period, a mission requirement made possible with a small dedicated launcher like Electron. With the first batch of TROPICS CubeSats now safely in orbit, the second launch, called “Coming to a Storm Near You,” is expected on another Electron rocket in approximately two weeks from Launch Complex 1.

Alternate Names

  • 56444

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2023-05-08
Launch Vehicle: Electron
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Mass: 5.3 kg

Funding Agency

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Technology Applications
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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