SC State to Participate in NASA Satellite Mission

Monday, July 2, 2012

NASA recently announced a $151.7 million award to the University of Michigan to lead a team that will design, launch and operate the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS).  The objective of this mission is to make accurate measurements of ocean surface winds, particularly tropical storms and hurricanes. CYGNSS will consist of a constellation of eight small satellites that will be carried to orbit on a single launch vehicle in order to improve tropical cyclone and extreme weather prediction.

"This will allow us to observe and understand the complete life cycle of storms and, thereby, understand the thermodynamics and radiation that drive their evolution. Our goal is a fundamental improvement in hurricane forecasting,” said Christopher Ruf, the principal investigator on this project and a professor at the University of Michigan.

Students and faculty members at South Carolina State University will participate in the project over the next seven years.  Dr. Donald Walter, SC State Professor of Physics, and Dr. Stephen Katzberg, previously a NASA Visiting Professor at SC State and now a retired research engineer living in Orangeburg, will lead the local effort.

Dr. Katzberg noted that, "This mission represents a culmination of research in which I have been engaged since 1996. It is always satisfying to see research turned into practical reality, especially since I was fortunate enough to have helped create this new remote sensing technique.  The use of 'nano' satellites and the GPS system means the taxpayer is getting much more 'bang-for-a-buck' in the space technology being developed to save lives and protect property from hurricanes." 

“This is a great opportunity for SC State to be engaged in cutting-edge research in atmospheric science,” said Walter. “We  are happy to have Steve contribute to the science and to allow our students to engage in research that is both exciting and will directly impact the lives of South Carolinians through better hurricane prediction.”

More information on the mission can be found at: