On October 27, NASA will launch the next generation weather and climate satellite. Known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project (or, to save some syllables, NPP), the satellite spacecraft, roughly the size of mini-van, will orbit at an altitude of 512 miles above the Earth’s surface. The data it beams back to Earth will help improve understanding of both global change and weather prediction.
NPP will hold five instruments, four of which are new. These instruments will generate data to feed into 30 long-term datasets. These datasets inform our understanding of the ozone layer, atmospheric land cover, ice cover, the oceans, atmospheric temperature, air pollution, energy, and, more broadly, climate change.
The data will also support weather forecasting.
“NOAA meteorologists will incorporate NPP data into their weather prediction models to produce forecasts and warnings that will help emergency responders anticipate, monitor and react to many types of natural disasters,” NASA said in a press release.
On the NPP website, NASA claims NPP will be the first satellite to simultaneously acquire global change information while supporting operational weather forecasting.
NPP was designed to act as a bridge between its current generation of earth observing satellites and NOAA’s planned Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), potentially jeopardized by Congressional budget cuts following years of program delays and cost overruns. The instruments aboard NPP will test technologies for NOAA’s JPSS.
Watch this video featuring local broadcast meteorologists Topper Shutt, Veronica Johnson, and Justin Berk, who provide an overview of NPP:
We’ll have more information on NPP as the launch date draws closer.