NASA, JAXA Plan Deorbit Procedure for ’90s Weather Satellite – Satellite Today


Artist’s visualization of the TRMM satellite in space over a tropical cyclone. Photo: NASA

[Via Satellite 08-26-2014] The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) a joint satellite program between NASA and JAXA, has nearly exhausted its fuel supply. Based on fuel tank pressure readings NASA estimates the satellite will deorbit in November 2016.

The TRMM satellite continues to send data that is used to study tropical rainfall’s influence on global water and energy cycles. Currently at an altitude of 402 kilometers, the space agencies plan to shut down the spacecraft in February 2016 when they estimate it will reach 335 kilometers. Solar weather may influence these dates, as flares and other bursts of energetic particles heat the upper atmosphere, causing it to expand and increase drag.

The aging weather satellite has far exceeded its original three-year mission by 14 years. Based on its rate of descent, NASA and JAXA estimate TRMM will collect more useful information over the next 18 months until it reaches 350 kilometers. The spacecraft is expected to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere after reaching an altitude of 150 to 120 kilometers.

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