NASA: US Space agency announces new mission to study storms, impacts on climate change

The new mission will be called Investigation of Convective Updrafts (INCUS) and is expected to be launched in 2027 as part of NASA’s Earth Venture Programme.

Created On: Nov 9, 2021 15:22 IST
NASA's Earth Science Mission
NASA's Earth Science Mission

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has selected a new Earth Science mission which will study the behaviour of tropical storms and thunderstorms, including their effect on the weather and climate change.

The US Space Agency informed in a statement that the mission will be a collection of three SmallSats, flying in tight coordination. It will be called Investigation of Convective Updrafts (INCUS) and is expected to be launched in 2027 as part of NASA’s Earth Venture Programme.

The Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, Thomas Zurbuchen said that every one of NASA’s Earth Science Missions is chosen carefully to add to a robust portfolio of research about the planet we live on.

How NASA selected INCUS?

NASA selected the Investigation of Convective Updrafts (INCUS) through the agency’s Earth Venture Mission-3 (EVM-3) solicitation that sought the complete, space-based investigations to address the significant science questions and produce data of the societal relevance within the Earth science field.

The US Space Agency received 12 proposals for EVM-3 missions in March 2021. After a detailed review by the panels of engineers and scientists, NASA selected INCUS to continue into development.

Objective of NASA’s new Earth Science Mission

• INCUS will fill an important niche to help understand the extreme weather as well as its impact on the climate models-all of which serves in providing the crucial information that is needed to mitigate the weather and climate effects on communities.

• The Investigation of Convective Updrafts (INCUS) also aims to directly address why convective storms, clouds and heavy precipitation occur exactly when and where they form. Climate Change has been increasing the heat in the oceans and is making it more likely that the storms will intensify more often and more quickly.

Mystery behind vertical transport of water and air vapour

Storm starts with rapidly rising water vapour and air that create towering clouds primed to produce rain, hail and lighting. The greater the mass of water vapour and the air that is transported upward in the atmosphere, the higher the risk of extreme weather.

This vertical transport of air and water vapour, also known as the convective mass flux (CMF), has remained one of the greatest unknowns in weather and climate.

The systematic CMF measurements over the full range of conditions will improve the representation of the storm intensity and constrain the high cloud feedbacks- which can add uncertainty- in weather and climate models.

NASA’s Earth Venture Programme

The Earth Venture Programme of NASA consists of science-driven, competitively selected, low-cost investigations/missions. This programme also provides opportunities for the investment in innovative science to enhance the capability to understand the present state of the Earth system and also further improve the predictions of future change.

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