Counting Down To JPSS-1 Launch

Artist’s concept of the JPSS 1 satellite. Image Credit: Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.

October 16, 2017 – The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, the first in a new series of highly advanced NOAA polar-orbiting satellites, is scheduled to lift off November 10, at 2:47 a.m. MST from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

“The new JPSS satellite will join GOES-16 as we are confronting one of the most tragic hurricane seasons in the past decade,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The JPSS satellite system will provide advanced forecasting on not only hurricanes, but also dangerous weather events threatening communities across the United States.”

The satellite, called JPSS-1, will provide meteorologists with a variety of observations, such as atmospheric temperature and moisture, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash and fire detection. Forecasters will be able to use the data to better predict weather events and hazards, such as a hurricane’s track, and when a hurricane will intensify or weaken, as well as identifying power outages in addition to locating and evaluating damage following a storm.

Circling The Globe 14 Times A Day

JPSS-1, which will be known as NOAA-20 when it reaches polar orbit, will join the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP), a joint NOAA-NASA weather satellite, giving the U.S. the benefit of two, sophisticated polar satellites in the same orbit. Each will circle the globe 14 times a day, 50 minutes apart and provide full, global observations for U.S. weather prediction. After it successfully clears the on-orbit test phase, NOAA-20 will become the nation’s primary polar weather satellite and Suomi NPP will become its back up.

“Having two advanced polar satellites in the same orbit will ensure our numerical weather models have the necessary, critical data to support forecasts up to seven days ahead of extreme weather events,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

“Eighty-five percent of the data flowing into our weather forecast models come from polar-orbiting satellites, such as Suomi NPP and the new JPSS series,“ said Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Using polar satellite data, we have been able to provide emergency managers with more accurate forecasts, allowing them to pre-position equipment and resources days before a storm. JPSS will continue this trend.”

Major Upgrade

The five next-generation instruments on JPSS will be a major upgrade from NOAA’s legacy polar-orbiting satellites. JPSS will provide more detailed information about atmospheric temperature and air moisture leading to more accurate near-term weather predictions. Over longer timescales, this data will help improve our understanding of climate patterns that influence the weather, such as El Nino and La Nina.

The JPSS program is a partnership between NOAA and NASA that will oversee all the satellites in the series. NOAA funds and manages the program, operations and data products. NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system and launches the satellites for NOAA.

“The launch of JPSS-1 continues the strong, decades-long partnership between NOAA and NASA in developing state-of-the-art Earth observation satellites,” said Sandra Smalley, director of NASA’s Joint Agency Satellite Division. “We are proud to contribute to NOAA’s continued leadership in critical weather forecasting throughout the entire JPSS series.”

Ball Aerospace designed and built the JPSS-1 satellite bus, and Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite instrument, integrated all five of the spacecraft’s instruments and performed satellite-level testing and launch support. Raytheon Corporation built the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Common Ground System. Harris Corporation built the Cross-track Infrared Sounder. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems built the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder and the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System instrument.

NASA-TV will cover the launch live and it can be viewed at www.nasa.gov/ntv, starting at 2:15 a.m. MST on November 10.