EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The INCUS Mission

Susan van den Heever1, Ziad Haddad2, Simone Tanelli2, Graeme Stephens2, Derek Posselt2, Yunjin Kim2, Shannon Brown2, Scott Braun3, Leah Grant1, Pavlos Kollias4, Zhengzhao Johnny Luo5, Gerald Mace6, Peter Marinescu1, Sharmila Padmanabhan2, Philip Partain1, Walter Petersent7, Sai Prasanth2, Kristen Rasmussen1, Steven Reising1, Courtney Schumacher8, and the INCUS Mission team*
Susan van den Heever et al.
  • 1Colorado State University, Atmospheric Science, Fort Collins, United States of America (
  • 2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena CA
  • 3NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
  • 4State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY
  • 5City College of New York, New York, NY
  • 6University of Utah, UT
  • 7NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
  • 8Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

The INvestigation of Convective UpdraftS (INCUS) is a recently selected NASA Earth Ventures Mission. The overarching goal of INCUS is to enhance our understanding of why, when and where tropical convective storms form, and why only some storms produce extreme weather. Life on Earth is bound to convective storms, from the fresh water they supply to the extreme weather they produce. Much of the vertical transport of water and air between Earth’s surface and the upper troposphere is facilitated by convective storms. This vertical transport of water and air, referred to as convective mass flux (CMF), plays a critical role in the weather and climate system through its influence on storm intensity, precipitation rates, upper tropospheric moistening, high cloud feedbacks, and the large-scale circulation. Recent studies have also suggested that CMF may change with changing climates. In spite of the critical role of this vertical transport of water and air within the weather and climate system, much is not understood regarding the way in which various environmental factors govern this mass transport, nor the subsequent impacts of CMF on high clouds and extreme weather. Representation of CMF is also a major source of error in weather and climate models, thereby limiting our ability to predict convective storms and their associated feedbacks on weather through climate timescales.

INCUS is a NASA class-D mission. Three RainCube-heritage Ka-band 5-beam scanning radars that are compatible with SmallSat platforms comprise the mission. The satellite platforms will be 30 and 90 seconds apart. Each SmallSat will carry one radar system each, and the middle SmallSat will house a single TEMPEST-D-heritage cross-track-scanning passive microwave radiometer with four channels between 150 and 190 GHz. Through its novel measurements of time-differenced profiles of radar reflectivity, INCUS is the first systematic investigation of the rapidly evolving CMF within tropical convective storms. The primary INCUS objectives are: (1) to determine the predominant environmental properties controlling CMF in tropical convective storms; (2) to determine the relationship between CMF and high anvil clouds; (3) to determine the relationship between CMF and the type and intensity of the extreme weather produced; and (4) to evaluate these relationships between CMF and environmental factors, high anvil clouds, and extreme weather within weather and climate models. The ground breaking observations of convective storms by INCUS are expected to significantly enhance our understanding and prediction of convective processes and extreme weather in current and future climates.

INCUS Mission team:

Susan C. van den Heever, Ziad Haddad, Simone Tanelli, Graeme Stephens, Derek Posselt, Yunjin Kim, Shannon Brown, Scott Braun, Leah Grant, Pavlos Kollias, Zhengzhao Johnny Luo, Gerald Mace, Peter Marinescu, Sharmila Padmanabhan, Philip Partain, Walter A. Petersen, Sai Prasanth, Kristen Rasmussen, Steven C. Reising, Courtney Schumacher, Rachel Storer and Ousmane Sy

How to cite: van den Heever, S., Haddad, Z., Tanelli, S., Stephens, G., Posselt, D., Kim, Y., Brown, S., Braun, S., Grant, L., Kollias, P., Luo, Z. J., Mace, G., Marinescu, P., Padmanabhan, S., Partain, P., Petersent, W., Prasanth, S., Rasmussen, K., Reising, S., and Schumacher, C. and the INCUS Mission team: The INCUS Mission, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9021,, 2022.