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


September 29, 1997

Allen Kenitzer Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: 301/286-2806) Public Relations Office National Space Development Agency of Japan (Phone: 81-3-3438-6107) RELEASE: 97-218 NEW NOVEMBER LAUNCH DATE SET FOR TROPICAL RAINFALL MEASURING MISSION NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) have set Nov. 18, 1997, at 3:40 p.m. EST (Nov. 19, 1997, 5:40 a.m., JST) as the new launch date for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). The launch was originally scheduled for Oct. 31, 1997 (Nov. 1, 1997, in Japan), from the Tanegashima Space Center in Tanegashima, Japan. The launch delay was caused by a problem with TRMM's companion payload on the H-II Rocket, the Japanese Engineering Test Satellite-VII (ETS-VII). ETS-VII is a Japanese robotics experiment consisting of two satellites (Target and Chaser) that periodically separate and re-dock. During recent systems tests at the launch site, anomalies were observed in the attitude control electronics of the Target satellite, and in a transponder of the Chaser satellite. These items were removed from the satellites and returned to the manufacturer for rework. The launch was postponed to allow time for the repairs. The first Earth science satellite dedicated to studying the properties of tropical and subtropical rainfall, TRMM carries microwave and visible/infrared sensors, and the first spaceborne rain radar. Tropical rainfall comprises more than two-thirds of global rainfall. More precise information about this rainfall and its variability is crucial to understanding and predicting global climate change.

One of the science goals of TRMM is to study how El Ni–orelated rainfall anomalies correlate with other oceanic and atmospheric processes. "Unfortunately, this delay will limit significantly our ability to study the approach of the peak of the current El Ni–o condition in the Pacific Ocean," said Dr. Joanne Simpson, NASA project scientist for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. "It also will reduce the mission's role in the start of a multifaceted research program in the South China Sea. But, we understand the needs of our important international partner in the TRMM launch, and we will make every effort to get science data flowing as soon as possible." TRMM still will be able to achieve its primary science objectives. "Despite this delay, we are very excited about the impending launch and look forward to years of climate research with the rainfall and other measurements to be provided by this unique observatory," said Dr. Ramesh Kakar, Program Scientist for TRMM at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. The TRMM launch window opens at 5:40 a.m. JST on Nov. 19, with an approximate two-hour launch window daily until Dec. 10, 1997. 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 human-induced changes on the global environment. TRMM is managed by Goddard for NASA's Office of Mission to Planet Earth, Washington, DC. -end-