Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last Delta 2 to Launch NPP Weather Satellite Friday

NASA is planning a early Friday 28 October launch of the first Earth-observing satellite to measure both global climate changes and key weather variables from Vandenberg AFB. The flight is the last on the manifest for the venerable Delta 2 rocket.

The early Friday's liftoff is scheduled for 2:48 a.m. PDT (5:48 a.m. EDT; 0948 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base California, located  northwest of Los Angeles. The Delta 2 rocket, making its 151st and possibly last launch, has no further missions scheduled. 

The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) is the first mission designed to collect critical data to improve weather forecasts in the short-term and increase understanding of long-term climate change.

NPP is an effort led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center that is carrying the first of the new sensors that will be utilized as part of that next-generation system called the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). The mission will continue critical weather and climate measurements by flying advanced sensor packages. NPP will measure various properties of the Earth’s atmosphere, land surface and oceans. Its five-year mission life will help to bridge critical weather data collection before JPSS is ready for operations in 2016.

Image credit: NASA