JPSS-1/NOAA-20 Sends Back First Science Data

Image Credit: NOAA/NASA

November 30, 2017 – Eleven days after JPSS-1 launched into Earth orbit, the satellite, now known as NOAA-20, has sent back its first Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) science data as part of a series of instrument startups and checkouts that will take place before the satellite goes into full operational mode. The NOAA-20 satellite carries five instruments that will improve day-to-day weather forecasting while extending the record of many long-term observations of Earth’s climate.

ATMS receives 22 channels of radio waves from 23 to 183 gigahertz. Five water vapor channels, combined with other temperature sounding channels are used to provide the critical global atmospheric temperature and water vapor needed to provide accurate weather forecasts out to seven days. ATMS also maps global precipitation, snow and ice cover.

This image uses ATMS data to depict the location and abundance of water vapor (as associated with antenna temperatures) in the lower atmosphere, from the surface of the Earth to 5 kilometers altitude.

Transparent/grey colors depict areas with less water vapor, while blue-green and purple colors represent abundant water in all phases (vapor, clouds, and precipitation) in low and middle latitudes. In the polar regions, purple depicts surface snow and ice. Water vapor distribution in space and time is a critical measurement for improving global weather forecasts. With detailed vertical information, forecasters can better identify the transport of water vapor associated with jet streams, which can fuel severe weather events.

Collecting data on our Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land surface, JPSS-1/NOAA-20 will feed NOAA’s National Weather Service models, giving forecasters the data they need to monitor and predict weather patterns with greater speed and accuracy. This will enable emergency managers to make timely decisions to protect lives and property, including ordering effective evacuations five to seven days in advance. Additionally, the data from JPSS-1 gives troops a competitive advantage on the battlefield; allows transportation industry to prepare and move resources, protects local economies; and provides citizens with more accurate weather forecasts to plan their day.

The JPSS-1 spacecraft was built and integrated by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. It’s based on Ball’s Configurable Platform 2000 — an agile spacecraft with 50 years of on-orbit operations. JPSS-1 is the twelfth spacecraft built on this core architecture, including the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) spacecraft launched in 2011.

JPSS-1/NOAA-20 launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on November 18.