February 2, 2009

New weather satellite ready for launch

The U.S. space agency said weather forecasts appear favorable for the launch of the NOAA-N Prime weather satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Built for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by the Lockheed Martin Corp, the satellite -- to be launched Wednesday -- is expected to improve weather forecasting and monitoring of environmental events around the world.

NOAA-N Prime is the fifth and last in the current series of five polar-orbiting satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities.

The satellite will collect meteorological data and transmit the information to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Satellite and Information Service, which processes the data for input to the National Weather Service for its long-range weather and climate forecasts, officials said. Forecasters worldwide also will be able to access the satellite's images and data.

In addition, the satellite has sensors that will be used in the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System to monitor for distress signals around the world.