A recent major milestone to develop the next-generation of polar-orbiting satellites was reached when operational control of America’s newest environmental satellite was transitioned to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NASA reported Monday that the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, a partnership between NASA and NOAA, was fully transferred to NOAA operational organization control Feb. 22.
"The future is now for NOAA satellites,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, deputy administrator and acting chief scientist at NOAA.
“The handover marks the dawn of the JPSS era. It also signals the effective teamwork between NOAA and NASA to launch and operate environmental satellite," Sullivan said.
These type of satellites are critical to providing advanced warning for severe weather including tornado outbreaks, heavy snowfall, hurricanes, heat waves, floods, and wildfires.
NOAA says data from the Suomi NPP satellite, which was launched Oct. 28, 2011, will continue to strengthen their ability to predict severe weather days in advance.
Suomi NPP data is also used to generate dozens of environmental data products, including measurements of clouds, vegetation, ocean color, and land and sea surface temperatures.
The satellite observes any given point on the Earth’s surface twice a day, once in daylight and once at night. It circles the planet in a north-south motion between the poles about 14 times a day, 512 miles above the surface. Once an orbit is complete, Suomi NPP sends its data to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway.
The data is then routed to the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md. where it is processed and distributed. NOAA’s National Weather Service incorporates the data into its weather prediction models that help generate medium-to-long range forecasts. The data is also available to users around the world via direct broadcast.
The Suomi NPP mission is a bridge between NASA's legacy Earth-observing missions and NOAA's next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS).
Suomi NPP carries groundbreaking new Earth-observing instruments that JPSS will use operationally. The first satellite in the JPSS series, JPSS-1, is targeted for launch in early 2017.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.