Next Generation Climate and Weather Satellite Ready for Friday Launch

A new satellite that will test key technologies and instruments for the next generation of climate and weather-monitoring satellites is scheduled to launch on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) mission has a planned liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:48 a.m. EDT/2:48 a.m. PDT.

“This is the first mission designed to provide observations for both weather forecasters and climate researchers and will provide data that is critical to climate research,” said Jim Gleason, NPP project scientist during a news briefing last week.

NPP is a collaborative effort between NASA and NOAA, and Gleason said NPP represents a critical first step in building the next-generation of Earth-observing satellites, and as it gathers new data it will test technologies for follow-on missions.

Gleason said people often confuse climate and weather.

“Climate is what happens over years and decades; the long term behavior and patterns,” he said, “which makes climate is what you expect, and weather is what you get from day to day.”

NPP contains a suite of five instruments that will make measurements of cloud, vegetation, and ice cover, ocean color, and sea and land surface temperatures.

The five instruments are the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS); the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS); the Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System (CERES); the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS); and the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS).

Data from NPP will be used to enhance their understanding of climate change. NOAA meteorologists will incorporate the data into their weather and climate prediction models to produce accurate, life-saving forecasts and warnings. Also NPP will help emergency responders monitor and react to natural disasters.

The NPP mission will help link the current generation of NASA Earth-observing satellites called the Earth Observing System (EOS) to a next-generation of operational polar-orbiting environmental satellites

More info on NPP.