Recognizing the importance of rain in the tropics and the accompanying latent heat release, NASA for the U.S. and NASDA for Japan have partnered in the design, construction and flight of an Earth Probe satellite to measure tropical rainfall and calculate the associated heating. Primary mission goals are: 1) the understanding of crucial links in climate variability by the hydrological cycle, 2) improvement in the large-scale models of weather and climate, and 3) improvement in understanding cloud ensembles and their impacts on larger scale circulations. The linkage with the tropical oceans and landmasses are also emphasized. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was launched in November 1997 with fuel enough to obtain a four to five year data set of rainfall over the global tropics from 37 deg N to 37 deg S. This paper reports progress from launch date through the spring of 1999. The data system and its products and their access is described, as are the algorithms used to obtain the data. Some exciting early results from TRMM are described. Some important algorithm improvements are shown. These will be used in the first total data reprocessing, scheduled to be complete in early 2000. The reader is given information on how to access and use the data.
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