TROPICS comprises of at least six CubeSats in three low-Earth orbital planes. Each CubeSat will host a high performance radiometer to provide temperature profiles using seven channels near the 118.75-GHz oxygen absorption line, water vapor profiles using three channels near the 183-GHz water vapor absorption line, imagery in a single channel near 90 GHz for precipitation measurements (when combined with higher resolution water vapor channels), and a single channel near 205 GHz that is more sensitive to cloud-sized ice particles. This observing system offers an unprecedented combination of horizontal and temporal resolution to measure environmental and inner-core conditions for tropical cyclones on a nearly global scale and is a major leap forward in the temporal resolution of several key parameters needed for assimilation into advanced data assimilation systems capable of utilizing rapid-update radiance or retrieval data. Launch readiness is currently projected for late 2019.
The TROPICS mission will produce a range of data products that will be available at the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC). The data products will be produced at the TROPICS Data Processing Center (UW-M SSEC), and consist of Level-1 radiances (antenna and brightness temperatures), Level-2a unified resolution radiance, Level-2b Atmospheric Vertical Temperature Profiles (AVTP), Level-2b Atmospheric Vertical Moisture Profiles (AVMP), Level-2b Instantaneous Surface Rain Rate (ISRR), and Level-2b Tropical Cyclone (TC) intensity algorithms to estimate two primary variables: Minimum Sea Level Pressure (MSLP) and Maximum Sustained Winds (MSW). Two independent intensity estimation methods are included: 1) the Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimate algorithm (TCIE) developed at the University of Wisconsin/CIMSS that uses native microwave brightness temperatures, and 2) the Hurricane Intensity and Structure Algorithm (HISA) developed at Colorado State University/CIRA that uses microwave retrievals of temperature, moisture, and integrated quantities. In addition to MSW and MSLP, HISA also provides estimates of surface wind radii and 2D winds at standard pressure levels. TROPICS is adapting the NOAA STAR Microwave Integrated Retrieval System (MIRS) to retrieve the AVTP, AVMP, and ISRR data products.