Last Monday, I was very fortunate to be included in NASA’s JPSS-1 Social. JPSS-1, standing for Joint Polar Satellite System, is an Earth observing satellite by NOAA and NASA (hence the joint). Scheduled to launch this September, it will be the first of the latest generation of polar satellites (there are four in the program). This satellite will be responsible for getting the public more accurate 3-7 day weather forecasts. Nothing is worse than packing for a trip and finding out you brought all the wrong type of clothes!
This satellite goes beyond predicting weather; it will also share information on climate, fire, smoke, vegetation, and phytoplankton abundance. The all star lineup of instrument include Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS), NASA Langley’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES), Harris’s Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), Ball Aerospace’s Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS), and Raytheon’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). Quite the mutt this satellite is!
ATMS is used to measure atmospheric temperature and moisture for weather and climate…. notice weather and climate are two different things 😉
CERES will measure the Earth’s albedo, or the sunlight and radiation reflected from the Earth.
CrIS will do the same as ATMS but instead will be listening for longer wavelengths (infrared vs microwave).
OMPs will measure the thickness/health of the ozone layer. Fun fact: did you know the hole in the ozone over Antarctica appears only at certain times of the year? Early Summer/Spring when it is cold enough to have ice crystals but there is enough sunlight to produce the chemical reaction that results in the deterioration of the ozone.
VIIRs is the imaging system aboard the satellite. It will have the capability of taking pictures not only in the visible spectrum (what we see with our eyes) but also in the near infrared (longer wavelengths).
Now that we mastered the instruments, let’s address the name of this satellite, well, in particular the “Polar” part. This refers to the satellites orbit, or its path about Earth. JPSS-1 will orbit the earth at a 90 degree inclination or just so that it goes over each of the poles. This is a great orbit for an Earth observing satellite, because as the Earth rotates on its 24 hour spin rate, the satellite will be able to map different areas. You can see in the video below that although JPSS-1 is constantly in the same circle the Earth spinning below it gives it a new perceptive each time it comes around. JPSS1 is going so fast it makes its way about Earth 14 times a day and gets full coverage of the planet TWICE.
Unfortunately, the satellite wasn’t ready for its photo op so I didn’t get to see it in person but here is a video to help you understand how massive it is (just imagine I am that elusive shadow person).
For a full look at my NASA Social trip (including my behind the scenes tour of NOAA) check out my Facebook album!
Also can’t wait for it to launch aboard a Delta II (one of the last launches of this rocket!)