A new environmental satellite, NOAA-M, is being planned for launch June 24 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., NOAA and NASA announced today. NOAA-M will lift off aboard an Air Force Titan II launch vehicle at 11:22 a.m. PDT (2:22 p.m. EDT). The launch window extends for approximately 10 minutes.
“The NOAA-M satellite will improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world,” said Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., USN (ret.), Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and NOAA Administrator.
“The satellite will enable continuity of data for monitoring events such as El Nino, droughts, volcanic ash, fires, and floods. In addition, it will support of the international COSPAS-SARSAT system by providing search and rescue capabilities essential for detection and location of ships, aircraft, and people in distress,” Lautenbacher added.
NOAA-M is the third in a series of five Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) with improved imaging and sounding capabilities that will operate over the next 10 years.
Like other NOAA satellites, NOAA-M will collect meteorological data and transmit the information to users around the world to enhance weather forecasting. The data will be used primarily by NOAA’s National Weather Service for its weather and climate forecasts. NOAA-M will be re-named NOAA-17 after achieving orbit.
The polar-orbiting satellites monitor the entire Earth, tracking atmospheric variables and providing atmospheric data and cloud images. They track global weather patterns affecting the weather and climate of the United States. The satellites provide visible and infrared radiometer data for imaging purposes, radiation measurements, and temperature and moisture profiles. The polar orbiters’ ultraviolet sensors also measure ozone levels in the atmosphere and are able to detect the ozone hole over Antarctica from mid-September to mid-November. Each day, these satellites send global measurements to NOAA’s Command and Data Acquisition station computers, adding vital information to forecasting models, especially over the oceans, where conventional data are lacking.
Data from the NOAA spacecraft are used by researchers within NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise, a long-term research program designed to study Earth’s land, oceans, atmosphere, ice and life as a total integrated system.