GMI Media Kit
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 will work in concert with the JAXA-built Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instrument. GMI’s higher frequency channels will 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 will advance our understanding of Earth’s water and energy cycles, improve forecasting of extreme events that cause natural hazards and disasters, and extend 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 company will provide on-site customer support which will continue throughout the GPM pre-launch activities and three-to-four months after launch.
GMI Fast Facts
- Approximately eight feet tall, the Ball Aerospace GMI instrument is a powerhouse of radiometry. Rotating at 32 revolutions per minute, it will use four very stable calibration points on each revolution to regulate the scanned data. The accuracy of the GMI instrument will set 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.
GMI Press Releases
March 4, 2014
February 27, 2014
December 26, 2013:
November 30, 2009:
Ball Aerospace Selected for Second NASA GMI Microwave Imager
GMI in the News
Boulder County Business Report:
Ball imager set to ride NASA weather satellite
Space Flight Insider:
NASA, JAXA announce global precipitation satellite launch date
Gunter’s Space Page:
Aviation Week & Space Technology:
New Spacecraft Will Generate Water Maps