NASA tests tiny satellites to track global storms

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How many times have you stepped outside into a surprise rainstorm without an umbrella and wished that weather forecasts were more accurate?

A satellite no bigger than a shoebox may one day help. Small enough to fit inside a backpack, the aptly named RainCube (Radar in a CubeSat) uses experimental technology to see storms by detecting rain and snow with very small instruments. The people behind the miniature mission celebrated after RainCube sent back its first images of a storm over Mexico in a technology demonstration in August. Its second wave of images in September caught the first rainfall of Hurricane Florence.

The small satellite is a prototype for a possible fleet of RainCubes that could one day help monitor severe storms, lead to improving the accuracy of weather forecasts and track climate change over time.

The same storm captured by RainCube is seen here in infrared from a single, large weather satellite, NOAA’s GOES (Geoweather Operational Environmental Satellite). Credit: NOAA
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“We don’t have any way of measuring how water and air move in thunderstorms globally,” said Graeme Stephens, director of the Center of Climate