Ball Aerospace-built GMI Instrument Launches

Boulder, Colorado. February 27, 2014. The Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) successfully launched on NASA’s GPM Core Observatory satellite from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan at 1:37 p.m. EST on February 27, 2014. The satellite flew onboard an H-IIA launch vehicle.

Built for NASA, Ball’s GMI is a multi-channel, conical-scanning microwave radiometer that flies aboard the GPM Core Observatory. GMI is an essential part of an international satellite mission that will capture next-generation observations of rain and snow worldwide every three hours. The GPM Core Observatory will deliver unprecedented 3-D views of hurricanes and snowstorms and contribute to monitoring and forecasting weather events such as droughts, floods and landslides.

“GMI will provide significantly more accurate data to forecasters tracking extreme weather,” said Ball Aerospace President Rob Strain. “GMI’s greater accuracy will also enhance the global precipitation dataset used by the world’s scientists.”

The Ball Aerospace GMI, will deliver more frequent and higher quality data collection than currently available. The eight-foot tall GMI instrument rotates at 32 revolutions per minute and uses four extremely stable calibration points on each revolution to calibrate the data it scans. The instrument minimizes solar intrusion for added accuracy and features higher frequency channels to measure smaller particles of precipitation such as light rain and snow.

GMI will fly aboard the GPM Core Observatory satellite with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA-s) Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instrument. The GMI captures precipitation intensities and horizontal patterns, while the DPR provides insights into the three dimensional structure of rain, snow and other precipitation particles. Together, these two instruments will provide a database of measurements that will be used with observations of other partner satellites to upgrade the quality of all collected data and to provide uniform precipitation estimates everywhere in the world every three hours.

GMI’s design is based on successful microwave sensors built previously by Ball Aerospace, including the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C), the GEOSAT Follow-On (GFO-2) and the Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS).

The company is currently performing risk reduction work for the U.S. Air Force on the Defense Weather Satellite Follow-On microwave sounding and imaging instrument. This sensor will greatly leverage the advanced design and hardware of the GMI instrument to measure tropical cyclone intensity, sea ice, soil moisture and ocean surface vector winds for military forecasting.