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NOAA Offering Satellite Ride Share

NOAA is rolling out a new way for small satellites built by the commercial sector to hitch a ride on the upcoming advanced Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) spacecraft launch and test their technology to determine if it will meet NOAA’s observation requirements.

NOAA looks to test the capabilities of these privately funded small satellites because a new NOAA Satellite Observing System Architecture study shows that future satellite instruments with lower cost and/or increased performance could provide significant benefit in NOAA’s future observing systems. On July 31, NOAA published a Request for Information seeking demonstrations of key capabilities to enable realization of these benefits. The approved satellites will have the opportunity to fly as a “rideshare” on the JPSS-2 launch vehicle in one of several available slots on the JPSS-2 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) ring.

“NOAA is providing small satellite vendors access to space through the JPSS-2 launch. This will give them a relatively low cost opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities,” said Karen St.Germain, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s Office of Systems Architecture and Advanced Planning.

She added: “NOAA will also benefit from access to the small satellite vendor’s observation data, which will provide an understanding of possible future capabilities and their potential benefits to NOAA’s mission.”

JPSS-2, the second in a series of next-generation polar-orbiting satellites following the successful launch of operational satellite NOAA-20 (also known as JPSS-1), is scheduled to launch in 2022. Issuing the RFI now gives the satellite community time to present their proposals and prepare for the launch should NOAA choose to pursue next steps based on RFI responses.

Fall & Flood Weather

Kids are back in school and the weather is starting to change from summer heat to the cooler season of fall. Are you prepared for fall weather hazards? Does your family have a plan?

  1. Make a Family Communication Plan so everyone knows where to go and how to stay in touch.
  2. Get a NOAA Weather Radio.
  3. Prepare for winter storms by stocking at least three days of non-perishable food and water.
  4. Learn how to be a Force of Nature!

With Hurricane Florence and other heavy rain storms, the potential for flooding is very real. Heavy rainfall always brings a danger of flash flooding, but sometimes even light/moderate rainfall can trigger dangerous floods. Dry stream beds can become raging torrents in minutes with no rain in sight! Stay safe from floodwaters and learn more at

Stay safe and enjoy the fall!


Students Experience the Power of Controlling Satellites in Space

Earth-bound electronic games can’t compete with actually controlling a squadron of miniature robotic satellites in space. Through the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites- Zero Robotics (SPHERES-Zero-Robotics) challenge, students compete to experience this power and excitement.

Using a trio of autonomous satellites on the International Space Station, SPHERES-Zero-Robotics gives students the chance to develop software to guide robots through a virtual obstacle course aboard the space station. High school students write algorithms for specific tasks for the volleyball-sized robotic satellites, and run them as virtual simulations on a computer and under realistic microgravity conditions in elimination rounds. Finalists have their programs sent to the station, where an astronaut loads them into the SPHERES satellites and monitors their movements to help determine a winning student team. The exciting final competition streams live at the European Space Agency (ESA) technology center in the Netherlands, European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The competition involves NASA, MIT, ESA and the Russian Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS). It is open to teams from high schools around the world. In the U.S., many states use the competition to introduce young people to the practical applications of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The satellites have their own power, propulsion, computers and navigation, using 12 small thrusters to rotate and move around. They have been used inside the station since 2006 to test autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers and liquid slosh in microgravity.

The competition is about more than feeding the satellites sets of commands; local experts help students build critical engineering skills such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training and teamwork—all skills that could lead to the development of software to enable autonomous robots to accomplish complex tasks in the future. Their results could lead to important advances for satellite servicing and vehicle assembly in orbit.

“Zero Robotics aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Jeff Hoffman, veteran NASA astronaut and SPHERES co-investigator with MIT. “We wanted to provide students with the chance to interact directly with NASA and space. This competition encourages them to develop their math and science skills as well as an appreciation for the physics involved in space engineering.” Alvar Saenz-Otero, the investigation’s primary investigator, founded the program at MIT.

The program helps teachers connect with students, said Shannon Bales, a STEM lead with the Alabama Afterschool Community Network, an initiative to promote positive development and learning when students are out of school. Bales said it is exciting for students to see the results of their hard work culminate with an astronaut running their programming live on the space station.

“It’s so rewarding for them and for us,” Bales said. “Last year, a parent told me their son really came out of his shell after Zero Robotics and how much he loved working on it. The program is making a difference in students’ lives and that’s why we do it.” The students have fun, exercise creativity, and learn valuable problem-solving skills, and feel like they are contributing to NASA research, she added.

The SPHERES-Zero-Robotics program provides students a unique and valuable opportunity to engage in space research and see the possibility of being a part of NASA’s mission to explore. No mere game can compete with that.

Russian cosmonaut Andrei Borisenko and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson help perform the finals of the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) Zero Robotics competition on the station.

Credit: Bill Hubscher, Melissa Gaskill
International Space Station Program Science Office
Johnson Space Center

Summer Time

Summer time and the living is easy! The weather is beautiful – the sun is shining and feels wonderful! And yet, not to be out done by the other seasons, Summer has plenty of weather challenges:

  • Tornadoes, Thunderstorms, and Lightning
  • Flooding
  • Heat
  • Hurricanes
  • Rip Currents
  • Wildfire and Air Quality
  • Drought

So how can you be prepared and take action??

Educate yourself on what weather conditions are prevalent in your area and where you travel by looking at the videos and materials on the Weather Ready Nation website.

To help you better understand Hurricanes and prepare, we are reposting our Hurricane Preparedness article from last year.

New, Next-Generation NOAA Polar-Orbiting Satellite is Now Operational

Weather forecasters officially have a new tool in their arsenal, as the first satellite in NOAA’s new Joint Polar Satellite System has passed rigorous testing and is now operational.  Launched last November as JPSS-1 and renamed NOAA-20 once it reached orbit, the satellite features the latest and best technology NOAA has ever flown in a polar orbit to capture more precise observations of the world’s atmosphere, land and waters. Data from the satellite’s advanced instruments will help improve the accuracy of 3-to-7 day forecasts.

“Improved weather forecasts can save lives, protect property and provide businesses and communities valuable additional time to prepare in advance of dangerous weather events,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

NOAA-20 provides NOAA’s National Weather Service with global data for numerical weather prediction models used to develop timely and accurate U.S. weather forecasts. In addition, high-resolution imagery from the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, known as VIIRS, will enable the satellite to detect fog, sea-ice formation and breaking in the Arctic, volcanic eruptions and wildfires in their very early stages. This advanced modeling and imagery information, shared with international and governmental partners, will help businesses, the emergency preparedness and response communities and individuals make the best decisions possible in the face of weather-related hazards.

NOAA-20 joins Suomi NPP – the NOAA-NASA demonstration satellite launched in 2011 – giving the U.S. the benefit of two sophisticated spacecraft in nearly the same orbit. Each circles the Earth in a polar orbit 14 times a day, collecting global observations that form the basis for U.S. weather prediction.

“NOAA-20 is especially beneficial for tracking developing storms in the Arctic, Alaska and Antarctica. Forecasts for these remote regions are critical for the U.S. fishing, energy, transportation and recreation industries, which operate in some of the harshest conditions on the planet,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction.

JPSS-2, the second in the series, is scheduled to be launched in 2021, followed by JPSS-3 in 2026 and JPSS-4 in 2031. JPSS satellites are designed to operate for seven years, with the potential for several more years. The JPSS mission will deliver its critical data and information for at least the next two decades to support a Weather-Ready Nation.

Press Contact:

John Leslie,, 301-713-0214

Maureen O’Leary,, 301-713-9000


Congratulations to Fairfax County Public Schools!

Congratulations to the students and teachers excelling at science and engineering concepts!

Twelve Fairfax County High School students earned grand prize awards at the 63rd annual Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair held March 17-19 at Robinson Secondary School.


Brian Kennedy, chemistry teacher and director of the Chemical Analysis and Nanochemistry Research Laboratory at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), has been recognized by the American Chemical Society as the 2018 recipient of the James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching, sponsored by the Journal of Chemical Education and ChemEd X.   He was honored March 20 at the ACS national meeting in New Orleans.




Spring Weather

We all anticipate spring weather eagerly looking forward to warmer weather, blooming gardens, and outdoor activities. But spring can also be temperamental and bring its own weather challenges – Tornadoes, Thunderstorms, Flooding, and Hurricane Season starts June 1!

To help you better understand Hurricanes and prepare, we are reposting our Hurricane Preparedness article from last year.

Kudos to Emily for working with her class and her mom to make an emergency plan and be prepared!! She asked JeTSI to share a great site created for kids  –

So like Emily and her mom….  Be Prepared! Make a family plan in case of a natural or national disaster.

Spring Weather Hazards

Warnings vs Watches

  • Warnings mean a weather event is occurring – take action!
  • Watches mean conditions are favorable for a weather event – be prepared!



South Lakes Robotics Team

Congratulations to the South Lakes High School robotics team, the <C://>Hawks!

The team has advanced to the FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology) Virginia State Championship after winning a place for the Inspire Award at the recent Tech Challenge. The Inspire Award is given to the team that demonstrates respect and gracious professionalism, is an ambassador for FIRST programs, and demonstrates and documents their work in their community. The team will be participating at the Virginia State Championship on Saturday, February 24 in Richmond engaging their robot in the Relic Recovery Challenge, finding treasures and returning them to their rightful place in history.

You can support the local team through their home page:

JeTSI at AMS 2018

JeTSI team member, Patrick Barnes presented the poster, “Utilizing MBSE to Modularly Architect the NESDIS Ground Enterprise” at the American Meteorological Society’s 14th Annual Symposium on New Generation Operational Environmental Satellite Systems . The power of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) lies in the relationships built between the systems, activities, and functions within the model. Rather than a flat, two-dimensional view, MBSE allows for interweaving relationships in architecting a system of systems. The model can be updated to keep it current, and linked as a subset to a larger architectural model providing a view of the total enterprise.

This poster shows the JPSS ground system as a subset in the larger NOAA NESDIS ground architecture model. The NESDIS Ground System consists of segregated systems, operations, networks, and facilities. This amalgamation of systems and system of systems is often referred to as the NOAA “stovepipes.” With the transition of GOES-16 and JPSS-1 operations to NOAA, we will see an increase in the complexity of the overall NESDIS Ground System. The addition of hundreds of systems, servers, and network nodes make understanding the system as a whole a daunting task. Modern architecture tools and disciplines, such as Model-Based Systems Engineering, can be used to clearly define the as-is state of a ground system regardless of complexity.

The poster is viewable in Published Papers on the JeTSI website.

Winter Weather is Here!

Are you prepared for Winter Weather?

Do you know the difference between a Winter Storm Watch, Winter Storm Warning and a Winter Weather Advisory?

  • When a warning is issued: TAKE ACTION!
  • When a watch is issued: Get Prepared!
  • When an advisory is issued: Take Precautions!

Find out more at:

Review Winter Weather Safety with your family to better understand the weather and to be prepared.

Will there be rain, ice, or snow???

Bundling up in layers and staying dry is one of the best things you can do to stay safe this winter.