New NPP weather satellite launched – new features for climate

Launch video from Vandenburg and mission video animation:


Nation’s newest environmental satellite successfully launched

NPP is vital for NOAA’s weather forecast mission

America’s newest polar-orbiting satellite roared into orbit this morning, setting the stage for enhanced weather data NOAA scientists will use to develop life-saving severe weather forecasts days in advance.

The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force, Calif., at 2:48 a.m. PDT aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. At approximately 3:45 a.m. PDT, the spacecraft separated from the Delta II to the delight of NOAA and NASA officials.

NPP is a NASA Earth-observing satellite and features five new instruments that will collect more detailed information about Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans.  NASA will use NPP as a research mission, while NOAA will use the data for short and long-term weather forecasting and environmental monitoring.

“This year has been one for the record books for severe weather,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The need for improved data from NPP and the next generation satellite system under development by NASA and NOAA has never been greater.  They will enhance our ability to alert the public with as much lead time as possible.”

In 2011, data from polar-orbiting satellites like NPP allowed emergency managers and communities to prepare for severe weather events . Five days before a destructive and deadly tornado outbreak in Alabama and parts of the Southeast in April, NOAA forecasters were able to see the early atmospheric signs of the storm system developing and issue timely warnings.

NPP will orbit Earth every 102 minutes, flying 512 miles above the surface, monitoring atomospheric conditions below. The first of the NPP data will become available in about 90 days and begin replacing data from the NOAA-19 satellite in the afternoon orbit, passing over the United States during full daylight hours.

NPP is also the bridge that links NOAA’s current polar-orbiting satellites to the next generation of advanced spacecraft called the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), which is currently set to launch in late 2016, pending funding. NPP will test how the new instruments perform before they are formally added to the JPSS satellites. NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md., will process and distribute the data from NPP.

The originally planned launch of JPSS has been setback due to delays in funding over the past couple of years. This means there will be a data gap between the time NPP begins to degrade from the harsh space environment and the time JPSS is succsessfully placed into operation. The length of that gap depends on future years funding and the agency remains optimistic that current year Congressional support will carry over into a final appropriation and outyear funding.

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction and NOAA deputy administrator, hailed the successful launch of NPP as a credit to the long-standing partnership between NOAA and NASA.

“This partnership works,” Sullivan said. “For more than 40 years, we have worked together fielding observation satellites to provide the nation with critical environmental intelligence to protect lives and livelihoods.”

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

On the web:




NPP Instruments

  • Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS: will survey broad swaths of the land, oceans and air, enabling scientists to monitor everything from phytoplankton and other organisms in the sea, to vegetation and forest cover to the amount of sea ice at the poles.
  • Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite, or OMPS: maps and profiles ozone throughout the atmosphere.
  • Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System, or CERES: monitors the amount of energy entering and exiting the top of the atmosphere.
  • Cross-track Infrared Sounder, or CrIS: measures temperature profiles with greater resolution, improving climate prediction and both short-and long-term weather forecasting, and scientists’ understanding of major climate shifts.
  • Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder, or ATMS: works in conjunction with CrIS to make detailed vertical profiles of atmospheric pressure, heat and moisture.
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Billy Liar
October 28, 2011 12:12 pm

“This year has been one for the record books for severe weather,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
And I thought 1926 and 1927 were ones for the record books.

October 28, 2011 12:44 pm

Are ATMS and CrIS new? Not that I would necessarily know, but I don’t remember any data indicating that we can get vertical atmospheric profiles now.

Chuck L
October 28, 2011 1:44 pm

Gee, maybe the satellite will find Trenbarth’s missing heat.

October 28, 2011 2:29 pm

Mentioned on the BBC (UK) news as a satellite to monitor global warming! Same old story

Jim Barker
October 28, 2011 3:11 pm

Ay least now they will be able to make actual measurements in real time. No telling where the data may take us.

View from the Solent
October 28, 2011 3:49 pm

What happened to your few days off to attend to to other commitments? Go away!
REPLY: Didn’t say it would happen that day, have to get people setup to publish first. That’s why it was a call for guest authors – Hopefully next week. – Anthony

October 28, 2011 3:53 pm

Was too wiped out last night to contemplate watching the actual launch (I have a really great vantage point to view the upper portions of Vandenberg launches). Did however see the noctilucent clouds when I rolled out this AM.,

Lawrie Ayres
October 28, 2011 3:57 pm

Chuck L @ 1.44
Depends who gets the data first and how much it can be adjusted. Hansens over at NASA isn’t he?

October 28, 2011 5:37 pm

Its tertiary mission which was completed 20 seconds after liftoff was to confirm that there was no Roman climate optimum or medieval warming period. IPPC has confirmed that this is the case, climate before World War II was perfectly change free for the last 20,000 years.

Doug Proctor
October 28, 2011 6:44 pm

This is going to be good. Hansen’s computer modelled temperatures are going to be put to the test. Either the world is warming like bandits in the Arctic, or Hansen’s going to have to adjust his last 23 years of temperature profiles.
I know what the non-warmist side will be looking for …
Of course, this is now, not back then: the CAGW crowd have already determined that history is not relevant to the present or the future. And there is always the Chinese coal plants to blame. (Not their massive investment in solar panels, you’ve notice?)

Mike McMillan
October 28, 2011 8:22 pm

More and better data for Dr Spencer.

October 29, 2011 12:34 am

Will the data from this satellite remain hidden or “selectively disclosed” like all the other data pertaining to AGW?

Steve C
October 29, 2011 12:49 am

Nice. Odd to notice that the new satellite’s data is intended to replace that from NOAA-19 – the newest of the trusty old POES craft, hardly a couple of years up there itself. Do we know what frequency NPP is on, or what format I need to decode? – Their page invites me to “Follow NPP on Twitter”, and Facebook, and Flickr, but I’m a radio enthusiast – I’d much rather follow it by downloading its images. 🙂

October 29, 2011 1:35 am

Hey, no faring separation failure?

October 29, 2011 8:55 am

Permit me to simplify: What an incredible waste.
The people doing this CANNOT LEARN.

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