Douglas Isbell Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1753


June 25, 1997

Allen Kenitzer Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: 301/286-2806) Yasuyuki Fukumuro National Space Development Agency of Japan, Tokyo (Phone: 81-3-3438-6107) RELEASE: 97-143 TROPICAL RAINFALL MEASURING MISSION SET FOR OCTOBER 31 LAUNCH NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) have set October 31 at 3:40 p.m. EST (Nov. 1, 1997, 5:40 a.m., JST) as the official launch date for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. The first Earth science satellite dedicated to studying the properties of tropical and subtropical rainfall, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) carries microwave and visible/infrared sensors, and the first spaceborne rain radar. Tropical rainfall comprises more than two-thirds of global rainfall and is the primary distributor of heat through the circulation of the atmosphere. More precise information about this rainfall and its variability is crucial to understanding and predicting global climate change. "We're very excited about this major opportunity for cooperation with Japan, which is NASA's largest international partner in Earth science," said William Townsend, Acting Associate Administrator for NASA's Mission to Planet Earth enterprise, Washington, DC. "The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission has great potential to improve scientific understanding of climate processes related to the heat released by tropical rainfall. In turn, this knowledge improves the global atmospheric circulation computer models that are used to make weather and climate forecasts." NASDA will provide the Precipitation Radar for TRMM and an H-II rocket to launch the observatory on a three-year mission

from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. "We are very happy to provide the Precipitation Radar for TRMM and launch this first space mission to measure a driving force of the global atmosphere, tropical rainfall. We hope this U.S.-Japan joint mission provides important data for predicting global climate change and weather anomalies," said Dr. Kazuyoshi Yoshimura, Executive Director of NASDA in Tokyo. "We will launch TRMM in November, and hereafter we can launch a rocket in each fall season. This is a good opportunity to expand the cooperation between the U.S. and Japan, and we expect a further cooperation in various fields, such as Earth observation satellites, Earth science, and global change research." NASAÕs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, fabricated the observatory's structure and support systems, integrated and tested the spacecraft and is providing two science instruments. Two other instruments are being provided by NASAÕs Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, and its Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL. Goddard also will operate TRMM via NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. NASA and NASDA will share responsibility for science data processing and distribution to the global change research community. Current knowledge of rainfall is limited, especially over the oceans. By flying in a low-altitude orbit of 217 miles (350 kilometers), TRMM's complement of state-of-the-art instruments will provide extremely accurate measurements of the distribution and variability of tropical rain and lightning, and the balance of solar radiation absorbed and reflected by Earth's atmosphere. Extensive prelaunch testing of TRMM was completed recently and the observatory currently is undergoing final preparations for its shipment to the Japanese launch site in late August. The TRMM launch window opens at 5:40 a.m. JST on Nov. 1, and with an approximate two-hour launch window daily for a 40day period. TRMM's companion payload on the H-II rocket will be Engineering Test Satellite-7, a Japanese robotics experiment.

The TRMM project is part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth enterprise, a long-term, coordinated research effort to study the total Earth system and the effects of natural and humaninduced changes on the global environment. TRMM is managed by Goddard for NASA's Office of Mission to Planet Earth, Washington, DC. -end-