Known as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, it is an international effort led by NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) "to measure rain and snowfall over most of the Earth several times a day."
The satellite will be used for long-term climate research and live weather forecasting, said Gail Skofronick-Jackson, GPM project scientist with NASA. "It will set a new standard for precipitation measurements from space."
The GPM will work with an international fleet of satellites to tally rainfall every three hours. It will give scientists a new look into clouds and storms and improve predictions of droughts, floods, landslides and other natural disasters.
"It should be in use by the middle of spring," Jackson said, "well in time for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season."
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