New satellite system being built in SA

Program at Southwest Research Institute aims to study hurricanes

SAN ANTONIO - Hurricane season is upon us and while forecasters can do a pretty good job of predicting where they're headed, it's a little more difficult to predict how strong they can be.

A new program is hoping to change that by launching satellites that will be built at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

The program, named CYGNSS, or Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, will help scientists study hurricanes in a way that hasn’t been done before.

"People can predict pretty accurately now where the hurricane is going to go. What they can't predict is how strong it's going to be,” said John Scherrer, Program Director at Southwest Research Institute. “The study from this program is going to help determine how does a hurricane intensify, why does it get real strong, and why does it stay weak. "

Unlike other satellites that are large in size, the program aims to launch eight small ones, each about the size of a lunch tray, and weighing about 35 pounds.
Scherrer said when it comes to technology, the trend now, is to go smaller.

"We've been able to do a lot more in a smaller satellite,” Scherrer said. “Going smaller you need less power, less weight, you can throw more aircraft into space."

The program is being done in conjunction with NASA. It will cost a total of $151.7 million. The satellites should take about 41 months to build, with an anticipated launch date of 2016.


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