New weather satellite to be launched this week

First Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) to be launched Tuesday, November 14. Image: NOAA/NASA.

The weather community – and science community as a whole – got a nice technology upgrade with the launch of the GOES-R (now known as GOES-16) satellite last November. We’re set to get another upgrade this month with the launch of a new satellite, but this one is more critical than GOES-16. The Joint Polar Satellite System (known as JPSS) is a collaboration between NOAA and NASA and will be replacing the polar-orbiting fleet of satellites. JPSS-1, which will become known as NOAA-20 once it’s orbiting the earth, could prevent a critical data gap. The current fleet of polar-orbiting satellites are at the end of their life cycle. They are still operating, but the risk of failure becomes greater every day. Just how critical are these satellites? According to an article by The Washington Post, 85% of the global forecast model input comes from these satellites, which orbit the entire globe. Without them, our ability to accurately forecast the weather would greatly suffer. In fact, scientists with the European Forecast Center (the ones responsible for the ECMWF model) concluded that without data from these particular satellites, we would not have been able to tell if Superstorm Sandy would make landfall! JPSS-1 is scheduled to launch this Tuesday (November 14th) and is just the beginning of a brand new fleet. Carbon-copies of this satellite will be produced in the next couple of years and launched. The next launch (JPSS-2) is scheduled for sometime in 2022. Read more about this week’s launch and find out how you can watch here.

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