RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Sunday night a rocket launched off the coast of New Zealand, carrying two satellites to be put into orbit. The mission is appropriately called TROPICS, which is short for Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats. (Yes, it’s a mouthful, hence TROPICS

The way it works is there will be a constellation of low orbit “cube satellites” that will help us see tropical weather in more detail, getting important weather data nearly every hour.

NASA hopes these satellites, which are only the size of a shoebox, will fill in a gap in data collection from some of our current weather satellites.

TROPICS will get data from not only around the tropical system, but will show high-resolution data around the eye. This means it will be able to see how the eye wall is changing, either getting stronger or weaker, and how that is impacting the environment around it.

This information is vital for hurricane forecasts, meaning this valuable data can be entered into weather models to help provide more accurate solutions.

Two TROPICS shoebox-sized satellites are on their way to join the fleet of NASA Earth missions studying our home planet. Together, TROPICS will have the potential to gather near-hourly data on the formation and development of tropical cyclones. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

With these smaller satellites able to see these fine details, in addition to the data gathered from our current satellites, the hope is to learn more about what can cause a tropical system to rapidly intensify, which is a trend we’ve seen over the past few hurricane seasons.

There is one more mission expected to take more of these cube satellites in low orbit which is expected to launch in another two weeks. It will take a few orbits to make sure the signal is working,  but once that happens it will be a big deal in improving tropical weather forecasts.

To learn more about TROPICS, visit the mission overview website here.