The United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket is set for blastoff at 1:47:02 a.m. PST (4:47:02 a.m. EST; 0947:02 GMT) Tuesday with the first spacecraft in NOAA's Joint Polar Satellite System. "For the better part of a decade, scientists and policymakers have been very concerned about a gap in polar-orbiting satellite coverage of the Earth due to delays in launching JPSS-1 and the obvious aging or potential failure of older birds in orbit", according to Maue.
This next-generation weather satellite - known as Joint Polar Satellite System-1 - promises "a leap in data collection and quality equivalent to going from an old flip-phone to an iPhone X", said meteorologist Ryan Maue of weather.us, a meteorological firm. "The Flight 2 development, build and test have proceeded smoothly and follow the success of the Flight 1 instrument for NPOESS Preparatory Project". Sensors aboard the spacecraft will collect measurements of air, ocean, and ground conditions, as well as fire locations, temperatures and water vapor throughout the atmosphere. It was created to be the functional equivalent follow-on to the Advanced Microwave Sounder Units with improved sampling and coverage. The JPSS program is a partnership between NOAA and NASA that will oversee all the satellites in the JPSS series.
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"Having more accurate data in those data-void regions and just more data in general that can be ingested in those meteorological models that we use me, as an operational forecaster, it can make those models more accurate because you have more reliable data", John Goff, lead meteorologist at the Burlington National Weather Service.
Several instruments aboard the satellite will provide detailed observations of temperature, air moisture, ice, snow, fog, wildfires, precipitation and ozone around the world.
Tuesday's launch window, which will be the same on Wednesday, was just 66 seconds. The mission is a joint effort between NOAA and NASA.
A Delta II rocket launch that was scheduled for early Tuesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base was scrubbed at the last minute and postponed for at least 24 hours. JPSS-1, which will be known as NOAA-20 when it reaches orbit, will join Suomi NPP, the joint NOAA-NASA weather satellite, giving the USA the benefit of two, sophisticated polar satellites in the same orbit.