The world is entering a new era of global weather observation and climate science with NASA's latest launch. Global Precipitation Measurement is a new international science satellite and it launched on Thursday afternoon.
NASA IV&V in Fairmont invited the public, as well as students from Simpson Elementary School in Harrison County, to come to its facility for a launch watch party.
"I've never seen a launch before and I've been wanting to see one for a long time so its going to be a good experience for me," said Lindsey Sylvania, Simpson Elementary School Student.
At 1:37 p.m. Thursday afternoon, its crowd watched history change forever. The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory left the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan and headed toward space.
"It brings excitement and joy to actually see something and a little bit of confidence because this is something we worked on and we actually get to see it be put to use," Bryan Cox, NASA IV&V GPM Project Lead.
This mission is the first to provide near real-time observations of rain and snow every three hours anywhere on the globe. The observatory's data acts as the measuring stick by which partner observations can be combined into a unified data set.
"It's really going to become part of a constellation of satellites, weather satellites, that will allow scientists to gather data," said Eric Sylvania, NASA IV&V Project Manager for GPM Mission. "It will help them to better predict weather events like rainfall, snowfall, hurricanes."
GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
"It's pretty cool to see the differences in the culture and how we do things versus how they do things and also to be able to work with another country to be able to accomplish something like this that will help the whole globe," said Cox.
NASA IV&V said the data GPM sends back will be used by scientists to study climate change, freshwater resources, flood and droughts, as well as hurricane formation and tracking.
GPM carries two instruments to measure rain and snowfall: the Duel-frequency Precipitation Radar and the GPM Microwave Imager.
Together, the two instruments will collect improved observations that will allow scientists to better "see" inside clouds.
They both provide new capabilities for observing smaller particles of rain, ice, and snow.
"Hopefully it will make it a lot easier for people that are meteorologists or people that predict the weather to do a more accurate job with better information. That will relay to people that turn on the news," Eric Sylvania said.
NASA IV&V said GPM will fly 253 miles above the Earth in an orbit inclined 65-degrees to the equator.
The mission is expected to last between 3-5 years.