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The Rain Falls Mainly in the...?
News story originally written on September 29, 1997

Tropical rainfall makes up more than two-thirds of all of the rain that falls on Earth. Tropical rainfall is rain that falls between the latitudes of the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. (Do you live in this area?)

Tropical rain is very important for the whole Earth. It spreads heat out over the whole Earth. That way the heat doesn't just gather in one place on the Earth. Because this rain distributes heat, it plays a big role in what kind of weather different places on Earth experience.

Scientists are very interested to see how tropical rainfall affects weather in different places so they are sending into space the TRMM satellite. TRMM stands for Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission.

The satellite was supposed to be launched October 31, 1997 from a Japanese launch site. It will still be launched from Japan, but the launch date has been delayed to November 18, 1997. The TRMM satellite is to be launched with another satellite. Engineers just found problems with TRMM's companion satellite and so they are taking the extra two weeks to fix the mechanical problems.

The TRMM will take very accurate measurements of tropical rainfall. It will even take measurements over the ocean where it is hard to gather accurate data from Earth. Scientists are hoping that TRMM's measurements will shed light on the El Nino condition that seems to be happening.

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