NASA's CYGNSS Hurricane-Tracking Satellites in Pictures

Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System

NASA

This is an artist's concept of one of NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) satellites orbiting Earth above a hurricane. Eight identical satellites the size of a microwave oven will fly in formation to monitor winds above the ocean.

How Does CYGNSS Measure Winds

University of Michigan

To measure the wind, CYGNSS satellites rely on GPS signals. Other GPS satellites beam signals down to Earth, and the CYGNSS satellites point their GPS receivers at the ocean to observe the signal as it reflects off of the water. The quality or strength of this reflected signal reveals how windy — or stormy — a particular region is at the time.

CYGNSS In Space

NASA

NASA's eight Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) microsatellites will launch and deploy Dec. 12, 2016, to study the evolution of hurricanes and cyclones in Earth's tropical hurricane belt.

Hurricane Trackers

University of Michigan

CYGNSS satellites will monitor the most hurricane-prone regions of the Earth. Top panel: Historical storm tracks. Bottom left panel: CYGNSS measurements from one orbit over 1.5 hours. Bottom right panel: CYGNSS measurements from 15 orbits over 24 hours.

CYGNSS Construction

SwRI

Southwest Research Institute engineers and technicians built an engineering model of the CYGNSS microsatellite in May 2015.

Solar Panels Installed

SwRI

A technician at the Southwest Research Institute installs solar panels on a CYGNSS spacecraft on Feb. 4, 2016.

Deployment Test

SwRI

Deployment test of the solar panels on the first completed CYGNSS microsatellite, Feb. 4, 2016, at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Environmental Testing

SwRI

Four of the eight Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System microsatellites undergo thermal vacuum testing at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas. These tests will simulate the vacuum, vibration and extreme temperatures that CYGNSS microsatellites will endure during their time in space.

Radio Frequency Anechoic Chamber Testing

SwRI

A CYGNSS microsatellite is placed in a radio frequency anechoic chamber at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. NASA performed these types of tests throughout the summer of 2016 to evaluate the radio frequency interference between the many sensitive instruments on the spacecraft.

Shaken Up: Vibration Testing

SwRI

Engineers prepare the eight CYGNSS microsatellites, mounted on the deployment module, for vibration testing at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. These tests will simulate the conditions that the microsatellites will face during the launch into space.

Eight CYGNSS on Pegasus rocket

University of Michigan

All eight CYGNSS observatories prepped for launch on the Pegasus rocket. Launch is currently scheduled for Dec. 12, 2016 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.