The 3rd Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) Workshop – Consolidating the Concept
“We started with the objective of consolidation the results of the first two ‘planning’ workshops held in the US in 2001 and Japan in 2002. However, we also managed to agree on a ‘road map’ of actions and milestones for mission implementation. This is much more than anticipated and this will give the mission a further push”, summarised Amnon Ginati, Head of Earth Observation Future Programmes in wrapping up the 3rd GPM Workshop.
This workshop, held in June 2003 at ESA’s Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in The Netherlands, brought together more than 150 scientists, engineers and decision makers from all over the world to focus on the GPM mission. The workshop was jointly organised by NASA, NASDA and ESA. GPM is an international project that aims to advance weather forecasting and improve the prediction of extreme events such as hurricanes by measuring global precipitation from space every three hours. ESA is currently investigating a contribution to GPM by providing one of the satellites that forms the constellation by way of an Earth Explorer mission called EGPM.
The workshop participants represented potential data users as well as scientists and engineers involved in designing, building and validating space and ground instruments. The workshop was attended by NASA’s Associate Administrator for Earth Science, Dr Ghassem Asrar, the Executive Director of NASDA, Dr Yoji Furuhama and ESA’s Director for Earth Observation Programmes, Prof José Achache who explained the Agencies’ perspectives and strategies for implementing the mission. In the various workshop sessions, topics such as ‘GPM Science Objectives and Relations to other Programmes’, ‘System Architecture and Technical Implementations’ as well as ‘Algorithms, Validations, Assimilation and Applications’ were addressed.
The science and operational community is expecting a further major step towards operational precipitation monitoring with this mission following the Topical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), which has successfully provided tropical rainfall observations since its launch in November 1997. TRMM is a joint NASA/NASDA mission. GPM however, will provide global and more frequent precipitation observations and therefore requires a fairly large number of satellite platforms. The ultimate target is to provide a quasi-operational tool that will revolutionise precipitation monitoring. This is, as in the pioneering days of atmospheric research, still preformed using rain gauges on the ground. Since precipitation is one of the most variable parameters in the atmosphere in time and space, the importance of this mission concept cannot be underestimated.
However, “In order to get a mission with world-wide participation off the ground a lot of preparation is necessary and requires the alignment of diverse scientific programmes”, added a workshop participant.
Another workshop is planned for 4-7 November 2003 in Abingdon, UK. This workshop will focus on ground validation being an essential element of a mission with worldwide participation. Please see 1st International GPM Ground Validation Meeting for more details.