NASA has selected Astra Space Inc. to provide a launch service via its Astra Rocket 3 for the agency’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of SmallSats (TROPICS) mission. According to NASA the launch service contract for the TROPICS mission is a firm fixed-price contract valued at US$7.95 million. The satellites will be launched on three separate launches which will take place from the Kwajelein Atoll near the Marshall Islands in the Pacific over a 120 day period during the first half of 2022.
The TROPICS mission consists of six cubesats studying the Earth storm processes via rapidly refreshed microwave measurements that can be used to determine temperature, pressure, and humidity inside hurricanes as they form and evolve. The technology to do this was develoed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory.