New NOAA Weather Satellite Becomes Fully Operational

JPSS-1 Illustration, Courtesy NASA

Last fall, in November of 2017, NASA launched the JPSS-1 weather satellite for NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). After months of testing, the JPSS-1 is ready to become fully operational, meaning that its been calibrated and determined to be reliable. Now that the satellite is in position and ready for use it will be known officially as JPSS-20.

JPSS-20 is an exciting addition to the suite of satellites under NOAA’s control because it’s expected to help forecasters improve accuracy beyond 3 days. In order to create a projection of future conditions weather models must first be given starting conditions to work from. That’s where the JPSS-20 can help, by providing higher quality data to feed into computer models.

To be clear: the JPSS-20 will provide data for weather models, but will not be used for constant monitoring of weather systems. That job still belongs to the GOES weather satellites. The difference is the way in which they orbit the Earth.

Geostationary Orbiting Satellite, Courtesy NOAA

The GOES is a geostationary satellite, which means that it ‘watches’ one area of the Earth at all times. A polar orbiting Satellite, like the JPSS-20, instead circles the poles. Since the Earth continues to rotate while the satellite circles the poles, the satellite ‘sees’ the entire globe over the course of several hours.

The JPSS-20 holds instruments that will help us monitor atmospheric conditions, forest fires, volcanic activity, vegetation distribution, and many other important environmental conditions. This data will be put to good use to improve forecasts and further research in a number of environmental areas!