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You are here: GES DISC Home Precipitation Additional Features Instruments TRMM SATELLITE AND INSTRUMENTS



The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) designed to monitor and study tropical rainfall.
TRMM Data Access:

Launch Date: November 27, 1997

Circular, non-sun-synchronous, with an inclination of 35 degrees to the Equator.

Orbit Altitude:
  • 350 km (1997/11/27 - 2001/8/6)
  • 403 km (2001/8/24 - present)

Altiude Change:
During the period of 2001/8/7 to 2001/8/14, the average operating altitude changed from 350 km to 403 km (referred to also as TRMM Boost).
Artist's rendering of TRMM satellite with instrument identifications


Visible Infrared Radiometer:The VIRS (of NOAA AVHRR heritage) is a five-channel, cross-track scanning radiometer operating at 0.63, 1.6, 3.75, 10.8, and 12 um, which provides high resolution observations on cloud coverage, cloud type, and cloud top temperatures.

TRMM Microwave Imager:The TMI (of DMSP SSM/I heritage) is a multichannel passive microwave radiometer operating at five frequencies: 10.65, 19.35, 37.0, and 85.5 GHz at dual polarization and 22.235 GHz at single polarization. The TMI provides information on the integrated column precipitation content, cloud liquid water, cloud ice, rain intensity, and rainfall types (e.g., stratiform or convective).

Precipitation Radar:The PR, the first of its kind in space, is an electronically scanning radar, operating at 13.8 GHz that measures the 3-D rainfall distribution over both land and ocean, and define the layer depth of the precipitation.

There are two other TRMM instruments, Cloud and Earth Radiant Energy Sensor (CERES) and Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS). The data from CERES and LIS are not archived at the Goddard DAAC.

More information about TRMM Instrument Characteristics

TRMM Data Access:
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Last updated: Jan 28, 2016 01:02 PM ET