GMI Media Kit



GPM Mission:

The Ball Aerospace Global Precipitation Measurement-Microwave Imager (GMI) supports the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, which is a joint effort between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to improve climate, weather and rainfall predictions by providing more accurate precipitation measurements from space.

GMI works in concert with the JAXA-built Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instrument. GMI’s higher frequency channels measure small particles of ice, snow and rain while DPR gives a three-dimensional view of a column of precipitation. Together, these instruments give scientists an unprecedented view of small precipitation particles with a much higher degree of accuracy.

With less than two percent of the Earth’s total water volume being potable, the scientific community has long been committed to acquiring precipitation information. Through improved global precipitation measurements, the GPM mission advances our understanding of Earth’s water and energy cycles, improves forecasting of extreme events that cause natural hazards and disasters, and extends our current capabilities in using accurate and timely precipitation information.

The GPM satellite was successfully launched from Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in southern Japan at 1:37 p.m. February 27, 2014. The satellite flew onboard an H-IIA launch vehicle.

Ball Aerospace’s role in the GPM program includes the design, development and fabrication and test of the GMI and and pre- and post-launch support for the instrument. GMI is a conical-scan microwave radiometer with 13 channels operating from 10.65 GHz to 183.3 GHz. With its 1.2-meter (3.9 ft) aperture, the GMI can provide 4.4 km (2.7 miles) to 32 km (19.8 miles) resolution at an altitude of 407 km (252.9 miles).

Operating at 32 revolutions per minute, GMI is a powerhouse of radiometry, using four very stable calibration points on each revolution to regulate the scanned data. GMI collects Earth brightness temperature data from different locations at numerous sampling times throughout each 90-minute orbit and downloads the data every three hours. The GPM satellite has an unusual orientation to the sun, so Ball engineers designed the eight-foot tall GMI to minimize solar intrusion, which creates errors in science data.

Ball’s ingenious design provides a high level of accuracy, which allows GMI to cross-calibrate other sensors in the GPM constellations, setting a new reference standard for the scientific community.

GMI’s design is based on successful microwave sensors built previously by Ball Aerospace, including the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C), GEOSAT Follow-On (GFO) and the Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS).

Additional photos available on Flickr







Ball Program Manager

Don Figgins is the GMI program manager, accountable for the project’s overall success and customer satisfaction including technical compliance, schedule, and cost performance. Following delivery of the instrument to the customer, the companyl provides on-site customer support which will continue three-to-four months after launch.

Read profile




GMI Fast Facts

  • Approximately eight feet tall, the Ball Aerospace GMI instrument is a powerhouse of radiometry. Rotating at 32 revolutions per minute, it uses four very stable calibration points on each revolution to regulate the scanned data. The accuracy of the GMI instrument sets a new reference standard for the scientific community.
  • Using high sensitivity frequencies, GMI is fine-tuned to discriminate between noise and signatures of small particles of precipitation.
  • GMI is fabricated with graphite composite structures instead of aluminum to reduce mass by one third and its innovative circuit design reduces power consumption by 20% as compared to previous radiometers.
  • GMI’s thermal design minimizes solar intrusion, which causes errors in science data.







EPOXI/Deep Impact





Green Propellant Infusion Mission


Hubble Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope


F-35/Lightning II


Operational Land Imager

New Horizons/Ralph



Replicated Diffractive Optics/MOIRE









Suomi NPP



WorldView spacecraft series