NORFOLK, Va. — June 21 marked the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere - the official beginning to summer. 

The sun shone directly over the Tropic of Cancer (23.5° N) at 11:54, and we transitioned from spring to summer. The longest day featured more than 14.5 hours of daylight in Hampton Roads. 

On June 24, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and multiple domestic and international partners will launch a set of half a dozen mini satellites. 

The Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate-2 - or COSMIC-2 - is a follow up to the COSMIC-1 program. These satellites are set to orbit earth around 17,000 miles above the ground, gathering information from our atmosphere and beyond. The system of satellites utilizes GPS satellite signals to detect changes that Earth's atmosphere causes the signals as they travel into the atmosphere. This gives near real-time information on different variables such as pressure and water vapor content. Improved tropical system forecasts are a goal of this project.

These satellites also will improve data quality in the ionosphere. This layer begins about 30 mils above the earth and is filled with electrons and ions. The tools to measure variables in this layer have been limited but COSMIC-2 intends to change that. 

COSMIC-2 is a partnership between the United States and Taiwan. The launch will occur from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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