A new “eye in the sky” is scheduled to blast off into space early Tuesday morning, weather permitting.
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.
Polar satellites like the JPSS-1, which orbit the globe from pole-to-pole 14 times a day, are considered the backbone of the global observing system. According to the National Weather Service, 85% of the data flowing into their weather forecast models come from polar-orbiting satellites like the one that will launch Tuesday.
“We’re pretty excited about the launch,” said Joe Pica, director of the weather service’s office of operations, who added the spacecraft is designed to last about seven years. Several duplicate satellites are in the pipeline in the decades ahead, he said.
The new satellite will also deliver critical observations during severe weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards and is designed to help improve forecasts three-to-seven days ahead of a severe weather event.
“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. “JPSS will continue this trend,” he added.
With JPSS-1, the threat of a “satellite gap” due to aging satellite fleet should be allayed. “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. “We have luckily avoided any gaps.”
Several instruments aboard the satellite will provide detailed observations of temperature, air moisture, ice, snow, fog, wildfires, precipitation and ozone around the world.
Maue said that without data from polar satellites, “weather forecasts would noticeably suffer leading to more forecast busts, wayward hurricane tracks and more difficulty in preparing for severe weather.”
The satellite is slated to launch aboard a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force…