US: A recent major milestone to develop the next-generation of polar-orbiting satellites was reached when operational control of America’s newest environmental satellite was transitioned to NOAA. These satellites are critical to providing advanced warning for severe weather including tornado outbreaks, heavy snowfall, hurricanes, heat waves, floods, and wildfires.
Data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite will continue to strengthen NOAA’s ability to predict severe weather days in advance. Suomi NPP data are also used to generate dozens of environmental data products, including measurements of clouds, vegetation, ocean color, and land and sea surface temperatures.
The Suomi NPP mission is a bridge between the current fleet of polar-orbiting satellites and NOAA”s upcoming Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), scheduled to launch in 2017. Suomi NPP is operating new, sophisticated Earth-observing instruments that NOAA is using to support improved weather forecasts.
“The future is now for NOAA satellites,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, deputy administrator and acting chief scientist at NOAA. “The handover marks the dawn of the JPSS era. It also signals the effective teamwork between NOAA and NASA to launch and operate environmental satellites has worked for more than 40 years and will last well into the future.”
“Satellites like Suomi NPP are critical to the National Weather Service mission and improved decision support services,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA”s National Weather Service. “These polar satellites provide an important dataset for the global earth observing system and will lead to improved forecasts out to three days in the future and beyond.”