Satellite To Offer Enhanced Weather Information
By Eddy Metcalf
October 31, 2011 - America’s newest polar-orbiting
satellite roared into orbit on Friday, setting the stage
for enhanced weather data NOAA scientists will use to
develop life-saving severe weather forecasts days in
The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite was
launched from Vandenberg Air Force, Calif., at 2:48 a.m.
PDT aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. At
approximately 3:45 a.m. PDT, the spacecraft separated
from the Delta II to the delight of NOAA and NASA
NPP is a NASA Earth-observing satellite and features
five new instruments that will collect more detailed
information about Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans.
NASA will use NPP as a research mission, while
NOAA will use the data for short and long-term weather
forecasting and environmental monitoring.
has been one for the record books for severe weather,” said Dr.
Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and
atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The need for improved data
from NPP and the next generation satellite system under
development by NASA and NOAA has never been greater.
They will enhance our ability to alert the public with as
much lead time as possible.”
data from polar-orbiting satellites like NPP allowed emergency
managers and communities to prepare for severe weather events.
Five days before a destructive and deadly tornado outbreak in
Alabama and parts of the Southeast in April, NOAA forecasters
were able to see the early atmospheric signs of the storm system
developing and issue timely warnings.
orbit Earth every 102 minutes, flying 512 miles above the
surface, monitoring atmospheric conditions below. The first of
the NPP data will become available in about 90 days and begin
replacing data from the NOAA-19 satellite in the afternoon
orbit, passing over the United States during full daylight
NPP is also the bridge that links NOAA’s current polar-orbiting satellites to the next generation of advanced spacecraft called the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), which is currently set to launch in late 2016, pending funding. NPP will test how the new instruments perform before they are formally added to the JPSS satellites. NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md., will process and distribute the data from NPP.
planned launch of JPSS has been setback due to delays in funding over
the past couple of years. This means there will be a data gap between
the time NPP begins to degrade from the harsh space environment and the
time JPSS is successfully placed into operation. The length of that gap
depends on future years funding and the agency remains optimistic that
current year Congressional support will carry over into a final
appropriation and out-year funding.
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