Published: Sun, November 19, 2017
Science | By Cecil Little

NASA launches weather satellite to help forecast fire and flood

NASA launches weather satellite to help forecast fire and flood

The $1.6 billion JPSS-1 mission is the first in a new fleet of four advanced satellites created to track Earth's weather like never before for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA.

The rocket was carrying the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 - a polar-orbiting environmental satellite system. "This is huge", Greg Mandt, director of the JPSS program, said during live commentary just after the dazzling liftoff of JPSS-1.

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A rocket carrying the satellite launched at 12:47 a.m. Alaska time on Saturday from Vandenburg Air Force Base.

Polar-orbiting weather satellites have headed to space from Vandenberg for decades, but JPSS-1 features the most advanced technology NOAA has ever flown.

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What will the JPSS-1 do once it is in orbit?

"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. The JPSS-1 will double that when it comes online soon. "The JPSS system will help increase weather forecast accuracy from three to seven days". JPSS satellites are created to beam that data back in a raw form. The data provided by these satellites will not only improve weather forecasting but will be essential to predicting a hurricane's track, as well as climate patterns that can influence weather.

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The launch is now scheduled for 1:47 a.m. on November 18. Once it has completed its three-month testing and calibration phase and been put into active service, JPSS-1 will be rechristened NOAA-20. NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system and launches the satellites for NOAA. Together all objects will measure the level of moisture, ozone, temperature, and monitor the condition of vegetation on the planet.

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