July 15, 2017

Meet JPSS-1, NOAA/NASA’s polar orbiting satellite

Posted by Laura Guertin

In May, I was able to attend my second social media social of the year (my first one was to tour and learn about WHOI’s R/V Neil Armstrong during Fleet Week NYC). I had the opportunity to attend a second social in Boulder, Colorado, on June 19 to learn about NOAA’s newest polar-orbiting environmental satellite, the JPSS-1. I blogged on my Journeys of Dr. G site about my personal experience/reflection on learning about JPSS-1. Here, I’m sharing my professional impressions and more about the satellite itself.

The first satellite of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1) is part of a joint mission between NOAA and NASA in the latest generation of U.S. polar-orbiting, non-geosynchronous environmental satellites. JPSS will provide critical environmental satellite data to support NOAA’s mission to understand and predict changes in weather, ocean, coasts and climate. JPSS polar satellites will circle the Earth from pole-to-pole and cross the equator about 14 times daily in the afternoon orbit, providing full global coverage twice a day.

Satellites in the JPSS constellation gather global measurements of atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic conditions, including sea and land surface temperatures, vegetation, clouds, rainfall, snow and ice cover, fire locations and smoke plumes, atmospheric temperature, water vapor and ozone. JPSS delivers key observations for the Nation’s essential products and services, including forecasting severe weather like hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards days in advance, and assessing environmental hazards such as droughts, forest fires, poor air quality and harmful coastal waters. Further, JPSS will provide continuity of critical, global Earth observations— including our atmosphere, oceans and land through 2038. — JPSS Mission and Instruments

Below is a video produced by Ball Aerospace, featuring the engineers building the satellite. Additional videos that provide an overview of the JPSS-1 mission include ones by the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio and NOAA Satellites (for kids).

Unfortunately, myself and others at the social were not able to see the actual satellite, as it was undergoing testing at the Ball Aerospace facility in Boulder. So we spent the first part of the day exploring NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), touring the facilities and hearing from scientists. The afternoon started with a panel of JPSS-1 project scientists and engineers and then continued with an opportunity to examine models of the satellite instrumentation and to ask questions of the technical and scientific mission experts. Be sure to check out the official JPSS website and Ball Aerospace JPSS-1 website for detailed information about the satellite.

There is an impressive set of instruments included on JPSS. But in our current times, it seems more important for me to share not the technical/scientific aspects of the mission, but why the mission matters. If you are wondering how to share the value of the JPSS-1 and future polar satellites, read on…

JPSS satellites increase the timeliness and accuracy of forecast three to seven days in advance of a severe weather event. NOAA’s National Weather Service uses JPSS data as critical input for numerical forecast models, providing the basis for these mid-range forecasts. These forecasts allow for early warnings and enable emergency managers to make timely decisions to protect American lives and property, including ordering effective evacuations.

NOAA’s polar satellites are critical to the infrastructure and economy. Polar satellites provide critical weather forecasting for the $700 billion maritime commerce sector and offer a value of hundreds of millions of dollars for the fishing industry. The satellites provide critical information for drought forecasts. Drought impacts are the greatest natural hazard – estimated to be $6-8 billion annually in the United States – and impact agriculture, transportation, recreation and tourism, forestry and energy sectors. NOAA satellites can also observe volcanic eruptions and track the movement of ash clouds – at a value of $100 to $200 million to the aviation industry.

JPSS data benefits industry including but not limited to: emergency management, agriculture, aviation, maritime transportation, commercial fishing, shipping, recreational boating, land transportation, defense, coastal community preparedness, land and ocean tourism, energy, construction, insurance, and conservation. — JPSS FAQ

Thank you, NASA Social, for promoting this satellite and making myself and others aware of the mission and its importance to global society. Look for a launch date of September 21, 2017 (check here for updates on launch date and payload).

Rendering of JPSS-1 — JPSS-1 is scheduled to launch in 2017, aboard a Delta-II Mission Launch Vehicle and will take advantage of technologies developed through the NOAA (Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites) POES and for the Suomi NPP mission satellite, which launched in October 2011. From Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Image Gallery