After billions of dollars in cost overruns and delays, NASA is planning to launch one of the most important weather satellites ever early Tuesday morning.
JPSS-1 is the first of a few polar orbiting satellites to launch from the Joint Polar Satellite System.
The new satellite will be the most advanced polar-orbiting weather platform the US has yet put to use, NOAA officials said, since it will carry upgraded instruments able to gather more weather information than ever before.
"Having two advanced polar satellites in the same orbit will ensure our numerical weather models have the necessary, critical data to support forecasts up to seven days ahead of extreme weather events", said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., director of NOAA's Satellite and Information Service.
"Using polar satellite data, we have been able to provide emergency managers with more accurate forecasts, allowing them to pre-position equipment and resources days before a storm", said Louis Uccellini, director of the weather service.
With JPSS-1, the threat of a "satellite gap" due to aging satellite fleet should be allayed.
Several instruments aboard the satellite will provide detailed observations of temperature, air moisture, ice, snow, fog, wildfires, precipitation and ozone around the world. After it successfully clears the on-orbit test phase, NOAA-20 will become the nation's primary polar weather satellite and Suomi NPP will become its back up.
The JPSS-1 spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo.
NOAA-20 and the other polar-orbiting satellites are different from the GOES-16 satellite that launched last fall. Instruments on board were designed by Ball, along with Raytheon, Harris and Northrop Grumman.
NOAA-20 is expected to be in orbit for ten years.