Storms, ozone, vegetation and more: NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite returns first year of data

Nov 08, 2012 by Laura Betz
Northern hemisphere: Image of season-long composites of ocean chlorophyll concentrations derived from visible radiometric measurements made by the VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP. The date ranges of the two composites are included in the individual images. These false-colored images make the data stand out. The purple and blue colors represent lower chlorophyll concentrations. The oranges and reds represent higher chlorophyll concentrations. These differences in color indicate areas with lesser or greater phytoplankton biomass. Credit: NASA/Suomi NPP/Norman Kuring

On Oct. 28, 2011, the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite successfully blasted into orbit in a spectacular night launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Now, Suomi NPP has orbited the Earth more than 5,000 times and begun returning images and data that provide critical weather and climate measurements of the complex Earth system.

"The Suomi NPP flight and ground teams have spent the first year making sure the spacecraft, instruments and data products are working well. As the instruments and data products have successfully checked out, the data go out to users," says James Gleason, Suomi NPP project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"These data help us improve our computer models that predict future environmental conditions," Gleason adds. "Better predictions let us make better decisions, whether it is as simple as taking an umbrella to work today or as complex as responding to a changing climate."

Suomi NPP observes Earth's surface twice every day, once in daylight and once at night. The spacecraft flies 512 miles (824 kilometers) above the surface in a , circling the planet about 14 times a day. Suomi NPP sends its data once an orbit to the ground station in Svalbard, Norway, and continuously to local direct broadcast users.

Named for satellite meteorology pioneer Verner Suomi, the Suomi NPP mission is managed by NASA with the (NOAA) providing operational support and NOAA's Joint System (JPSS) managing the satellite's ground system.

Southern hemisphere: Image of season-long composites of ocean chlorophyll concentrations derived from visible radiometric measurements made by the VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP. The date ranges of the two composites are included in the individual images. These false-colored images make the data stand out. The purple and blue colors represent lower chlorophyll concentrations. The oranges and reds represent higher chlorophyll concentrations. These differences in color indicate areas with lesser or greater phytoplankton biomass. Credit: NASA/Suomi NPP/Norman Kuring

"Suomi NPP provides NOAA with the highest quality satellite data for critical operational products and services, such as weather forecasts, climate and ecosystem assessments," says Mitch Goldberg, NOAA's JPSS program scientist. NPP is the precursor satellite for the upcoming series of JPSS Earth-observing satellites.

What makes Suomi NPP such a powerful tool is the wide range of important observations it makes with its five instruments. These instruments send back data that allow scientists to see the entire globe from space and further understand oceans, clouds, ozone, snow, ice, vegetation and atmosphere.

Suomi NPP's five instruments include:

This year VIIRS left the world in awe with a spectacular composite image of our planet that became known as the 'blue marble,' OMPS took its first measurements of the annual ozone hole, ATMS data are now being used to make weather forecasts, and CrIS data are just about ready to be used in weather forecasts. The CERES data are being matched to that of its sibling instruments on NASA's Earth Observing System satellites Terra and Aqua with the goal of understanding clouds and the Earth's energy balance.

"Suomi NPP is a foundational satellite that offers an abundance of observations, plus it's sustaining a program of advanced observations," says Goldberg. "This is critical for long-term data continuity."

This fully functional bridges more than a decade of observations by NASA satellites—NASA's Earth Observing System—to the next generation of U.S. Earth-observing satellites—JPSS.

JPSS, currently under development, is building on the success of Suomi NPP and will provide critical observations for accurate weather forecasting, reliable severe storm outlooks, and climate science, including global measurements of atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial conditions such as sea surface temperatures, ozone, vegetation, and more.

Explore further: The importance of plumes

More information: More images: www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/sets/72157627439487497/
www.nasa.gov/npp

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Infrared sounder on NASA's suomi NPP starts its mission

Feb 09, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- A powerful new infrared instrument, flying on NASA's newest polar-orbiting satellite, designed to give scientists more refined information about Earth's atmosphere and improve weather forecasts ...

NPP satellite successfully completes thermal vac testing

May 25, 2011

The NASA National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project (NPP) climate and weather satellite has successfully passed all environmental testing with the recent completion of ...

NASA's NPP satellite acquires first VIIRS image

Nov 22, 2011

The Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite, NPP, acquired its first measurements on Nov. 21, 2011. This high-resolution image is of a broad swath of ...

Recommended for you

The importance of plumes

13 minutes ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

3 hours ago

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

A full-spectrum Mars simulation in a box

3 hours ago

There are many reasons why Mars excels at destroying expensive equipment. For one thing, its entire surface is made of partially-magnetized dust. For another, Mars possesses just enough atmosphere so that ...

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...