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Joint Polar Satellite System

About JPSS

The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the Nation's advanced series of polar-orbiting environmental satellites. JPSS represents significant technological and scientific advancements in observations used for severe weather prediction and environmental monitoring. These data are critical to the timeliness and accuracy of forecasts three to seven days in advance of a severe weather event. JPSS is a collaborative effort between NOAA and NASA.

NOAA's National Weather Service uses JPSS data as critical input for numerical forecast models, providing the basis for mid-range forecasts. These forecasts enable emergency managers to make timely decisions to protect American lives and property, including early warnings and evacuations. JPSS satellites circle the Earth from pole-to-pole and cross the equator 14 times daily in the afternoon orbit--providing full global coverage twice a day. Polar satellites are considered the backbone of the global observing system.

Satellites in the JPSS constellation gather global measurements of atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic conditions, including sea and land surface temperatures, vegetation, clouds, rainfall, snow and ice cover, fire locations and smoke plumes, atmospheric temperature, water vapor and ozone. JPSS delivers key observations for the Nation's essential products and services, including forecasting severe weather like hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards days in advance, and assessing environmental hazards such as droughts, forest fires, poor air quality and harmful coastal waters. Further, JPSS will provide continuity of critical, global Earth observations-- including our atmosphere, oceans and land through 2038.

Success of Suomi-NPP

NPP launch photoThe Suomi NPP spacecraft lifted off at 5:48 a.m. EDT on Oct. 28, 2011.

The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership or Suomi NPP, previously known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) and NPP-Bridge. NPP was renamed to Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) in honor of Verner E. Suomi, University of Wisconsin meteorologist, widely recognized as the "Father of Satellite Meteorology."

The spacecraft was lifted into orbit at 5:48 a.m. EDT on Oct. 28, 2011 by a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The launch capped a flawless countdown. The satellite was placed into a sun-synchronous orbit 824 km (512 miles) above the Earth.

Suomi was launched to serve as a gapfiller between the POES satellites and the Joint Polar Satellite System which will replace them. Its instruments provide climate measurements that continue prior observations by NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS). The EOS satellites have provided striking new insights into many aspects of Earth, including its clouds, oceans, vegetation, ice, and atmosphere. As the EOS satellites age, Suomi NPP and the rest of the JPSS satellites will take the lead on these efforts.

The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership represents a critical first step in building this next-generation satellite system. Suomi NPP orbits the Earth about 14 times each day and observe nearly the entire surface. The Suomi NPP satellite continues key data records that are critical for climate change science.

Get the latest from Suomi NPP →

JPSS-1 satellite illustration

The Future of JPSS

JPSS-1, or NOAA-20 as it will be known once operational, is the second spacecraft within NOAA's next generation of polar-orbiting satellites. It is scheduled to launch in 2017. Capitalizing on the success of Suomi NPP, the JPSS-1 spacecraft boasts five instruments. Instruments can also be called sensors or payloads. JPSS-1 will take advantage of the successful technologies developed through the Suomi NPP satellite. JPSS-1's design life is seven years, and it is scheduled to launch aboard a Delta-II Mission Launch Vehicle.

Find out more about the JPSS constellation →

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