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Joint Polar Satellite System

The Space Segment

The space segment is comprised of six elements. The spacecraft, the five instrument/sensor payloads, and the associated ground support equipment and simulators.

Spacecraft and Instruments

Suomi NPP

Suomi NPP spacecraft labeledInstruments aboard the Suomi NPP spacecraft bus

Suomi NPP carries a diverse payload of scientific instruments to monitor the planet. The 4,600-pound (2,100 kilogram) spacecraft, which is about the size of a small school bus, crosses the equator each afternoon at about 1:30 p.m. local time. The spacecraft is a member of the Ball Configurable Platform (BCP) family of spacecraft designed for cost-effective, remote sensing applications. Its proven design accommodates a wide range of payloads, including optical applications with sub-meter resolutions and synthetic aperture radar. The NPP spacecraft bus is the eighth of 11 spacecraft built by Ball Aerospace on the same BCP 2000 core architecture. In all, this architecture has more than 50 years of successful on-orbit operations. The BCP 2000 was designed to accommodate a wide variety of Earth-observing payloads that require precision pointing control, flexible high-data throughput and downlinks, and controlled re-entry. The spacecraft has a 7-year design life, with a five-year 5-year mission life. Ball Aerospace designed and built the spacecraft bus, under contract to Goddard Space Flight Center, and was responsible for integrating the instruments and for performing satellite-level testing and launch support.


JPSS-1 is the second spacecraft within NOAA's next generation of polar-orbiting satellites. Capitalizing on the success of Suomi NPP, the JPSS-1 spacecraft boasts five similar instruments: VIIRS, CrIS, ATMS, OMPS-N, and CERES-FM6. 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.

JPSS-2 will provide operational continuity of satellite-based observations and products for NOAA Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES) and Suomi NPP satellite and ground systems. The baseline plan for JPSS Ground System will be sustained to support JPSS-2, similar to JPSS-1. The JPSS-2 spacecraft will host the following instruments: VIIRS, CrIS, ATMS, OMPS-N, and RBI.

JPSS-3 is the fourth spacecraft within NOAA's next generation of polar-orbiting satellites. It is scheduled to launch in 2026. Benefiting from on the success of previous JPSS spacecrafts, JPSS-3 contains five similar instruments: VIIRS, CrIS, ATMS, OMPS-N, and RBI.

JPSS-4, scheduled to launch in 2031, is the fifth spacecraft within NOAA's next generation of polar-orbiting satellites. Similar to previous JPSS spacecrafts missions, JPSS-4 will host five instruments: VIIRS, CrIS, ATMS, OMPS-N, and RBI.


The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder

ATMS, a cross-track scanner with 22 channels, provides sounding observations needed to retrieve profiles of atmospheric temperature and moisture for civilian operational weather forecasting as well as continuity of these measurements for climate monitoring purposes.


Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite

VIIRS, a scanning radiometer, collects visible and infrared imagery and radiometric measurements of the land, atmosphere, cryosphere, and oceans. VIIRS data is used to measure cloud and aerosol properties, ocean color, sea and land surface temperature, ice motion and temperature, fires, and Earth's albedo. Climatologists use VIIRS data to improve our understanding of global climate change.


The Cross-track Infrared Sounder  

(CrIS), a Fourier transform spectrometer with 1305 spectral channels, will produce high-resolution, three-dimensional temperature, pressure, and moisture profiles. These profiles will be used to enhance weather forecasting models, and they will facilitate both short- and long-term weather forecasting.


Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite            

OMPS, an advanced suite of two hyper spectral instruments, extends the 25-plus year total-ozone and ozone-profile records. These records are used by ozone-assessment researchers and policy makers to track the health of the ozone layer. The improved vertical resolution of OMPS data products allows for better testing and monitoring of the complex chemistry involved in ozone destruction near the troposphere.


Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System

CERES, a three-channel radiometer, measures both solar-reflected and Earth-emitted radiation from the top of the atmosphere to the surface. It also determines cloud properties including the amount, height, thickness, particle size, and phase of clouds using simultaneous measurements by other instruments.


Radiation Budget Instrument          

RBI measures reflected sunlight and thermal radiation emitted by the Earth. The Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI) is scheduled to fly on the JPSS-2, JPSS-3 and JPSS-4 satellite mission

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Goddard Space Flight Center