NASA's latest super-sophisticated storm-sensor, the GOES-O, succeeded before it ever left Earth - detecting thunderstorms before being launched. Technically it "detected" them by being delayed, as wimpy non-Michael-Bay NASA scientists don't believe in firing massive Delta IV rockets through lightning bolts, but now it's in orbit and keeping an electronic eye out for storms - both surface and solar.
The Geostationary Operational Environment Satellites is a network of weather-watchers with the GOES-O being the fourteenth. Construction and launch of the latest satellite cost a cool half-billion (including the half-million kilogram launch vehicle), but the payback is priceless: up to the minute environmental information on Earth.
MIT's Kerry Emanuel describes the worst nightmare hurricane that could ever happen -a "hypercane" with winds raging around its center at 500 miles an hour. Water vapor; sea spray and storm debris are spewed into the atmosphere, punching a hole in the stratosphere 20 miles above the Earth's surface; at landfall, its super-gale-force winds would flatten forests and toss boulders with a 60-foot tsunami-like storm surge flooding nearby shores. The water vapor and debris could remain suspended high in the atmosphere for years, disrupting the climate and the ozone layer.
A satellite which may help scientists make more accurate climate and weather predictions by monitoring the shape of the world's oceans launched last Friday morning from California. Jason-2, a joint project between NASA and CNES, the French space agency, will send back a topographic map of 95 percent of the planet's ice-free oceans every 10 days. The readings will help researchers track sea level fluctuations and the movements of water bodies around Earth.
Not satisfied with providing us with a horde of smiling hostesses and an Opening Ceremony that is being billed as spectacular, the Chinese are looking to weather control to ensure a rain free ceremony. With seven months until the 2008 Olympic Games get under way; the Beijing Meteorological Bureau had developed a method to minimize rain on the day.
The Bird’s Nest stadium, home to the opening ceremony, the chance of a dampened start to the festivities was considerable. Thus, a plan was devised.
Weather is tough to predict at the best of times, with Mother Nature not necessarily bringing the human need to know what clothes to wear into her equations. But it gets even trickier when trying to predict hurricanes.
"Forecasting intensity is one of the biggest problems we have right now with hurricanes," says NASA atmospheric scientist Robbie Hood.. But Hood and her team of researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center are making strides toward solving that problem with a new invention called HIRAD, short for Hurricane Imaging Radiometer.