March 8, 2012
Multi-Agency Satellite Begins Climate and Weather Studies
NASA has completed commissioning of the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (NPP), which is now making global environmental observations. The satellite will provide scientists with critical insight into the dynamics of the entire Earth system, including climate, clouds, oceans, and vegetation. It will also gather enhanced data for improving our nation's weather forecasting system.
The mission, launched in October 2011, is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Defense. All five of the satellite's instruments now have been activated for science data collection.
"By providing cutting-edge measurements of important Earth system processes, the Suomi NPP mission will increase researchers' knowledge of our home planet, and provide direct societal benefit through more accurate predictions," said Michael Freilich, director, Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This satellite mission, which could only have come to fruition through a close interagency partnership, is multifaceted and its data will be used by a multitude of stakeholders in the U.S. and worldwide."
With the completion of commissioning activities, operation of the Suomi NPP has now been turned over to a Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) team. NOAA's JPSS Program provided three of the five instruments and the ground segment for Suomi NPP. A government team from the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md., will operate the satellite.
"NOAA is thrilled with the performance of Suomi NPP," said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service in Silver Spring, Md. "NOAA will be using the advanced data NPP provides to improve life-saving weather forecasts and track volcanic eruptions, and to improve our understanding of long-term weather and climate patterns. Suomi NPP is an important mission for the nation."
The Suomi NPP mission is a bridge between NOAA and NASA legacy Earth observing missions and NOAA's next-generation JPSS. Suomi NPP flies for the first time the groundbreaking new Earth observing instruments that JPSS will use operationally. The first satellite in the JPSS series, JPSS-1, is targeted for launch in 2016.
NASA scientists have already begun creating consistent, multi-decade Earth science data sets by combining the new NPP observations with measurements from many of the legacy NASA and NOAA missions. These long-term observations are critical to improving our understanding of the Earth system and quantifying any changes.
"With the successful completion of commissioning, Suomi NPP is now ready to provide the world with remarkable Earth observations," said Ken Schwer, NPP project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Goddard managed the Suomi NPP mission for the Science Mission Directorate's Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
For more information about the Suomi NPP mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/npp
Suomi NPP data will be available at: http://www.class.noaa.gov
For more information about the JPSS program, visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jpss/