JPSS-1 Satellite Imaging Instrument Completes Major Development Milestone

The Earth in True Color, as captured by the VIIRS instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite. Image Credit: NOAA Visualization Lab

The Earth in True Color, as captured by the VIIRS instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite. Image Credit: NOAA Visualization Lab

February 9, 2015 – The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), one of five instruments that will fly on-board NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) satellite, has successfully completed its pre-shipment review. The VIIRS instrument was built by the Raytheon Company in El Segundo, California, and will be integrated onto the spacecraft by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado. JPSS-1 is the next polar-orbiting NOAA satellite in the JPSS constellation and is scheduled to launch in 2017.

The first VIIRS instrument developed is currently flying on-board the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite. VIIRS collects visible and infrared imagery and global observations of land, atmosphere, cryosphere, and oceans and used to generate many critical environmental products for monitoring snow, sea ice, hurricanes, clouds, fog, aerosols, fire, volcanic ash, smoke plumes, dust, vegetation health, phytoplankton abundance, and chlorophyll.

“This milestone is important, as we maintain our progress towards launch of the JPSS-1 satellite in 2017,” said Harry Cikanek, JPSS program director. “VIIRS provides critical observations from Suomi NPP and having it fly on the JPSS-1 mission will ensure the continuity of these valuable earth monitoring capabilities.”

VIIRS features continuous multi-band high resolution imaging capabilities, which can be used alone or with observations from other sensors. VIIRS includes a unique detector for visible imagery at night giving forecasters the ability to monitor weather and environmental features at night. VIIRS extends high performance imagery, introduced by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and greatly improves upon the series of measurements initiated by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), and the Operational Linescan System (OLS).

VIIRS has better spatial resolution, more channels and a larger swath as compared to legacy imagers. These capabilities allow forecasters to better assess and calculate environmental parameters important to weather forecasting such as cloud cover that they may not otherwise accurately detect using other instruments. Cloud cover is important for numerical weather prediction accuracy and many other forecast uses.

JPSS represents significant technological and scientific advances in environmental monitoring and will help advance weather, climate, environmental and oceanographic forecasting and monitoring with greater accuracy. JPSS delivers key observations for the Nation’s essential products and services, including forecasting severe weather like hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards days in advance, and assessing environmental hazards such as, droughts, forest fires, poor air quality and harmful coastal waters, helping to secure a more ‘Weather-Ready Nation.’

JPSS enables forecasters and scientists to monitor and predict weather patterns with greater accuracy and to study long-term climate trends by extending the more than 30-year satellite data record. NOAA is responsible for managing and operating the JPSS program, while NASA is responsible for developing and building the JPSS instruments, spacecraft, and ground system.