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NASA to extend TRMM mission
Posted: Mon, Jun 20, 2005, 8:15 AM ET (1215 GMT)
TRMM illustration (JAXA) NASA plans to further extend the mission of a satellite used in hurricane forecasting, even though such an extension would make it impossible to carry out a controlled reentry. Space News reported in this week's issue that NASA administrator Michael Griffin has decided to extend the mission of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) spacecraft, perhaps until 2010. TRMM was scheduled to be shut down last year so that the spacecraft's remaining propellant could be used to deorbit the spacecraft in a controlled manner. That decision was strongly opposed by scientists and members of Congress, who note that TRMM provides critical data used in forecasting hurricanes. NASA then decided to extend TRMM to June 15 of this year, a decision that would still save enough propellant to permit a controlled deorbit. However, Griffin believes that the risk of injury or damage caused by an uncontrolled reentry — estimated to be 1-in-10,000 — is much smaller than the benefit gained by keeping the spacecraft operational. No formal announcement of the mission extension has been made; Space News cited a NASA spokesperson who said the agency is coordinating the mission extension with other US and Japanese agencies.
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