NOAA-20

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:47 a.m. PST on Saturday, November 18, 2017. JPSS-1 was renamed NOAA-20 when it reached its final orbit joining the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite in the same polar orbit, and will provide scientists with observations of atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, and fire detection.

“This year’s hurricane and fire seasons demonstrated just how critical NOAA’s Earth observing satellites are for forecasting extreme weather and hazardous events,” said Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator.

The NOAA-20 satellite carries five instruments to provide data to improve day-to-day weather forecasting, such as predicting a hurricane’s track, and aid in the recognition of climate patterns that can influence the weather, including El Nino and La Nina. They will also help emergency managers respond to events like wildfires and volcanic eruptions and help communities, recovering from severe storms, with better views of storm damage and show the extent of power outages. The data also will be available to aid scientists monitor changes in our environment.

“Building and launching JPSS-1 underscores NOAA’s commitment to putting the most scientifically advanced satellites as possible into orbit, giving our forecasters – and the public – greater confidence in weather forecasts up to seven days in advance, including the potential for severe or dangerous weather,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

“Emergency managers increasingly rely on our forecasts to make critical decisions and take appropriate action before a storm hits,” said Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Polar satellite observations not only help us monitor and collect information about current weather systems, but they provide data to feed into our weather forecast models.”

Together, NOAA and NASA oversee the development, launch, testing and operation all the satellites in the JPSS program. NOAA funds and manages the program, operations and data products. On behalf of NOAA, NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system and launches the satellites which NOAA then takes over to operate.

On November 29, NOAA-20 sent back its first Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) science data as part of a series of instrument startups and checkouts that will take place before the satellite goes into full operational mode.

ATMS receives 22 channels of radio waves from 23 to 183 gigahertz. Five water vapor channels, combined with other temperature sounding channels are used to provide the critical global atmospheric temperature and water vapor needed to provide accurate weather forecasts out to seven days.   ATMS also maps global precipitation, snow and ice cover.

This image uses ATMS data to depict the location and abundance of water vapor (as associated with antenna temperatures) in the lower atmosphere, from the surface of the Earth to 5 kilometers altitude. Transparent/grey colors depict areas with less water vapor, while blue-green and purple colors represent abundant water in all phases (vapor, clouds, and precipitation) in low and middle latitudes. In the polar regions, purple depicts surface snow and ice.   Water vapor distribution in space and time is a critical measurement for improving global weather forecasts. With detailed vertical information, forecasters can better identify the transport of water vapor associated with jet streams, which can fuel severe weather events.

Follow NOAA-20, visit https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/JPSS-1#noaa20.