Global Precipitation Measurement

Global Precipitation Measurement

Global Precipitation Measurement
This image depicts the GPM Core Observatory satellite orbiting Earth, with several other satellites from the GPM Constellation in the background. Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) is an international satellite mission that will set a new standard for precipitation measurements from space, providing the next-generation observations of rain and snow worldwide every three hours.
Visualization of the GPM Core Observatory and partner satellites orbiting Earth.
Mission type Environmental research
Operator JAXA/NASA
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer NASA GSFC
Ball Aerospace
NEC Toshiba
Start of mission
Launch date February 27, 2014
Rocket H-IIA 202
Launch site Tanegashima Yoshinobu 1
Contractor Mitsubishi
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) is a joint mission between JAXA and NASA as well as other international space agencies to make frequent (every 2-3 hours) observations of Earth’s precipitation. It is part of NASA's Earth Systematic Missions program and will work with a constellation of satellites to provide full global coverage. The project will provide global precipitation maps to assist researchers in studying global climate, improving the forecasting of extreme events, and adding to current capabilities for using such satellite data to benefit society.[1] GPM builds on the notable successes of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), which is also a joint NASA-JAXA activity.

The project is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and consists of a GPM Core Observatory satellite assisted by a constellation of spacecraft from other agencies and missions.[2] The Core Observatory satellite will measure the two- and three-dimensional structure of Earth’s precipitation patterns and provide a new calibration standard for the rest of the satellite constellation. The GPM Core Observatory was assembled and tested at Goddard Space Flight Center, and launched from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan, on a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket. The launch occurred on February 28, 2014 at 3:37am JST on the first attempt.[3] Agencies in the U.S., Japan, India and Europe operate the remaining satellites in the constellation for agency-specific goals, but also cooperatively provide data for GPM.[4]


  • GPM Core Observatory Instruments 1
    • Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) 1.1
    • GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) 1.2
  • Precipitation data sets 2
  • Social media 3
  • In Popular Culture 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

GPM Core Observatory Instruments

Visualization of GPM collecting data on March 17th, 2014 over the last major snow storm of winter 2013-2014 to hit the U.S. east coast.
The GPM Core Observatory in the electromagnetic testing chamber at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in March 2013. The silver disc and drum (center) is the GPM Microwave Imager, and the large block on the base is the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar.

Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR)

The DPR is a spaceborne radar, providing three-dimensional maps of storm structure across its swath, including the intensity of rainfall and snowfall at the surface. The DPR has two frequencies, allowing researchers to estimate the sizes of precipitation particles and detect a wider range of precipitation rates. The Ku-band radar, similar to the PR on TRMM, covers a 245 km (152 mile) swath. Nested inside that, the Ka-band radar covers a 120 km (74.5 mile) swath.[5]

GPM Microwave Imager (GMI)

The GMI is a passive sensor that observes the microwave energy emitted by the Earth and atmosphere at 13 different frequency/polarization channels. These data allow quantitative maps of precipitation across a swath that is 885 km (550 miles) wide. This instrument continues the legacy of TRMM microwave observations, while adding four additional channels, better resolution, and more reliable calibration.[5]

Precipitation data sets

GPM is set to produce and distribute a wide variety of precipitation data products after the launch and check-out of the GPM Core Observatory. Processing takes place at the Precipitation Processing System (PPS) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, as well as at the JAXA facility in Japan. Data is provided at multiple "levels" of processing, from raw satellite measurements to best-estimate global precipitation maps using combinations of all the constellation observations and other meteorological data. All data from the mission is made freely available to the public on NASA websites.[6]

Full-Scale Harness Mockup Model of the Core GPM Spacecraft being used for harness assembly inside the Acoustic Chamber at GSFC.

Social media

This animation shows GPM collecting some of its very first data on March 10th over a Pacific storm east of Japan.

In addition to maintaining social media accounts[7][8][9] and the GPM Road to Launch Blog, JAXA and NASA developed several outreach activities specific to this mission prior to launch that the public could participate in.

  • NASA Socials
    • JAXA-NASA Cherry Blossoms[10]
    • GPM Media Day[14]
      • Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD
      • Social media users were invited to apply for credentials to attend the media day activities and share their experiences via their own accounts.[15][16]
      • The social was rescheduled from October 8, 2013, due to the government shutdown.
  • Photo Contests
    • Extreme Weather[17]
    • Let it Snow[18]
    • Unique Perspectives[19][20]
  • GPM Anime Challenge[21][22]

In Popular Culture

The main character Mohan Bharghav (Shahrukh Khan) in 2004 Indian film Swades: We, the People is a Project Manager in NASA's GPM project. Movie starts from NASA's GPM project analysis. Bharghav discuss the importance of GPM and its positive impact on Earth.[23]


  1. ^ "The Global Precipitation Measurement Mission". NASA. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  2. ^ "Constellation Partners". NASA. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  3. ^ "GPM Launch Information". NASA. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  4. ^ "Constellation Partners". NASA. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  5. ^ a b "GPM Spacecraft and Instruments". NASA. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  6. ^ "Explanation of Data Products". NASA. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  7. ^ "GPM & TRMM Missions (NASA_Rain) on Twitter". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  8. ^ "Precipitation Measurement Missions". Facebook. 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  9. ^ "NASA Goddard". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  10. ^ "A Blooming Partnership: Behind the Scenes of JAXA & NASA Missions | NASA". 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  11. ^ "@NASASocial/JAXA/NASA Cherry Blossoms on Twitter". 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  12. ^ "NASA, JAXA Host 'NASA Social' - a set on Flickr". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  13. ^ "Cherry Blossoms and Partnerships in Space discussed at NASA Social". YouTube. 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  14. ^ "Social Media Accreditation Opens for GPM Media Day | NASA". 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  15. ^ "GPM NASA Social at Goddard - a set on Flickr". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  16. ^ "@NASASocial/GPM Media Day on Twitter". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  17. ^ "Extreme Weather Photo Contest Winners | Precipitation Measurement Missions". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  18. ^ "GPM "Let it Snow" Photo Contest Winners | Precipitation Measurement Missions". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  19. ^ "GPM "Unique Perspectives" Contest | Precipitation Measurement Missions". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  20. ^ "GPM "Unique Perspectives" Winners". NASA. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  21. ^ GPM Anime Challenge. "| Precipitation Education". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  22. ^ "Winners of the GPM Anime Challenge | Precipitation Education". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  23. ^ 10 Best Bollywood Movies of the Decade retrieved March 01 2014

External links

  • Official website (NASA)
    • GPM videos
  • Official website (JAXA)
    • Global Precipitation Measurement/ Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar pamphlet
    • videos
  • Twitter and Facebook