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On Thursday, August 11, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas, opened its doors to media, sharing progress on its Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS). The independent, nonprofit, applied research and development (R&D) organization has a long history of involvement in our nation’s space program, including building two of the instruments on NASA’s Juno spacecraft now in orbit around Jupiter, but CYGNSS is the first mission in which SwRI has built the primary spacecraft as well.
CYGNSS is a constellation of eight small satellites whose goal is to improve hurricane (tropical cyclone) intensity forecasting. Citing National Hurricane Center forecast verification data, CYGNSS Principal Investigator Dr. Chris Ruf of the University of Michigan notes that while hurricane/tropical cyclone tracking improved nearly 50 percent since 1990, there has not been a corresponding improvement in the accuracy of intensity forecasts. [Read more…]