The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite launched in October of 2011 on a mission to measure the Earth’s environmental systems. The satellite was developed by a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Defense (DOD), and it has now been completely commissioned and is ready to start its important observation work. The satellite will be measuring the Earth’s climate, clouds, oceans, and vegetation in an effort to study the changes in Earth’s systems. NASA researchers say that the satellite could be critical in understanding and predicting changes in the Earth’s systems over the coming years as the effects of climate change take hold.
“NOAA will be using the advanced data NPP provides to improve life-saving weather forecasts and track volcanic eruptions, and to improve our understanding of long-term weather and climate patterns. Suomi NPP is an important mission for the nation,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. Those involved with the development of the satellite say it couldn’t have been completed without the unprecedented partnership between the three agencies involved. NASA, NOAA and the DOD each brought their specific expertise to the table in order to make this multifaceted satellite and the five high-tech measuring tools it carries.
Suomi is outfitted with an Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder to measure global temperature and moisture levels, a Cross-track Infrared Sounder to monitor the characteristics of the atmosphere, an Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite, a Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite that can track wildfires and ice and land changes, and a Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System which will map thermal radiation. The agencies behind Suomi believe it is capable of providing insight into climate change, the health of the ozone layer, air pollution levels, global ice cover changes and can measure the amount of energy entering the Earth’s atmosphere. All of these observations will undoubtedly prove insightful as we attempt to understand more about how our actions are affecting change on the Earth.
“Suomi NPP not only will extend more than four decades of NASA satellite observations of our planet, it also will usher in a new era of climate change discovery and weather forecasting,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.