NASA’s new mission will determine the behavior of tropical storms and thunderstorms, including their impacts on weather and climate patterns. This new Earth science mission is set to launch in 2027 as part of NASA’s Earth Venture program.
It will explain why convective thunderstorms, heavy precipitation and clouds occur exactly when and where they form.
The mission will be a collection of three SmallSats, flying in close coordination, called Investigation of Convective Updrafts (INCUS). The INCUS was selected through the agency Earth Venture Mission-3 (EVM-3) solicitation. The EVM-3 aims to carry out space investigations to answer essential scientific questions and produce data of societal interest in the field of Earth sciences.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency’s Science Missions Directorate in Washington, said: “Each of our Earth science missions is carefully chosen to add to a strong portfolio of research on the planet we live on. INCUS fills an important niche in helping us understand extreme weather and its impact on climate patterns – all of which serve to provide crucial information needed to mitigate weather and climate effects on our communities.
Karen St. Germain, Director of NASA’s Earth Sciences Division, said, “In a changing climate, more accurate information about how storms develop and intensify can help improve weather models and our ability to predict the risk of extreme weather. This information not only furthers our scientific understanding of Earth’s changing processes, but can also help inform communities around the world.
The mission will cost around $177 million, not including launch costs. NASA will select a launch vendor in the future. After detailed review of 12 proposals received for EVM-3 missions, NASA selected INCUS for further development.