Thursday, October 27, 2011

NPP Launch


Ever followed a rocket launch with 0% chance of weather violation?? Me neither. So who's getting up in the wee small hours to see the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 2:48am PT?

The NPP is a collaborative effort between NASA and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and serves as the first Earth-observing satellite of the NPOESS, or National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

Is that enough acronyms for ya?

NPP Satellite
The spacecraft was designed for a 5-year orbital life, in which it will monitor the Earth's weather, atmosphere, oceans, land and near-space environment.

The NPP will launch into orbit on Delta II, from Space Launch Complex 2W (VAFB). Delta 2 rockets have sent 49 NASA payloads into orbit, and environmental satellite NPP, which is about the size of an SUV, will be number 50!

There are 5 key instruments on board:

NPP Instruments
The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) will create temperature and moisture profiles for weather forecasting models.

The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) will monitor atmospheric pressure patterns, hoping to improve weather forecasts.

The Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) is just what is sounds like and will map and profile ozone fluctuations.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) will collect visible and infrared views of Earth's surface processes, such as wildfires, land changes, oceanic properties, and ice movement.

The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) will measure reflected solar radiation, emitted terrestrial radiation, and total radiation.

NPP Satellite Paper Model Kit
Follow status updates at Spaceflight Now, or watch NASA Television, and hey, killing time during launch coverage is a perfect opportunity to print out the PDF and build the NPP Satellite Paper Model Kit!