NOAA Polar Operational Environmental Satellites
Launch Date: March 28, 1993
Mission Project Home Page - http://goespoes.gsfc.nasa.gov/
Today, the nation's environmental satellites are operated by NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) in Suitland, Maryland. NOAA's operational environmental satellite system is composed of two types of satellites: geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES) for national, regional, short-range warning and "now-casting," and polar-orbiting environmental satellites (POES) for global, long-term forecasting and environmental monitoring. Both types of satellites are necessary for providing a complete global weather monitoring system. In addition, NOAA operates satellites in the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), which are also polar-orbiting satellites. NESDIS also manages the processing and distribution of the millions of bits of data and images the satellites produce each day.
The POES satellite system offers the advantage of daily global coverage, by making nearly polar orbits roughly 14.1 times daily. Since the number of orbits per day is not an integer the sub orbital tracks do not repeat on a daily basis, although the local solar time of each satellite's passage is essentially unchanged for any latitude. Currently in orbit we have a morning and afternoon satellite, which provide global coverage four times daily. The POES system includes the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and the Tiros Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS).
Because of the polar orbiting nature of the POES series satellites, these satellites are able to collect global data on a daily basis for a variety of land, ocean, and atmospheric applications. Data from the POES series supports a broad range of environmental monitoring applications including weather analysis and forecasting, climate research and prediction, global sea surface temperature measurements, atmospheric soundings of temperature and humidity, ocean dynamics research, volcanic eruption monitoring, forest fire detection, global vegetation analysis, search and rescue, and many other applications.
Currently, NOAA is operating five polar orbiters. A new series of polar orbiters, with improved sensors, began with the launch of NOAA-15 in May 1998 and NOAA-16 on September 21, 2000. The newest, NOAA-17, was launched June 24, 2002. NOAA-12, NOAA-14 and NOAA-15 all continue transmitting data as stand-by satellites. NOAA-16 and NOAA-17 are classified as the "operational" satellites.
POES data provides economic, humanistic, and environmental benefits on a continuous, reliable basis.
The benefits that directly enhance the quality of human life and protection of Earth's environment include:
- Over 50% of the U.S. public utilizes 3-to-5 day weather forecasts for planning recreational and business activities
- City, state and federal government agencies utilize TIROS data products to manage resources, plan civic and industrial expansion, schedule services, and monitor population growth
- Countless lives and properties have been saved by monitoring severe storm movement and forecasting national disasters
- From monitoring ozone levels and animal migrations patterns to forecasting and detecting forest fires, TIROS is a vital tool of environmental research and protection
- Global data collected about the earth is used to monitor the environment and trend changes over time
- Search and Rescue instruments carried on POES satellites contributed to saving over 18,500 lives
Improved Sensors Launch in 1998
AMSU-A Advanced Microwave Sounding Units provide temperature and water vapor profiles used for world-wide weather forecasting by both NOAA and the National Weather Service. These radiometric sounding units will be flown on TIROS Polar Orbiting Weather Satellites and provide operational data for both civilian and military weather applications.
AMSU-A was developed under contract to NASA Goddard. The AMSU-A shipset consists of two units, A1 and A2, with 15 channels and a frequency range of 23 to 89 GHz. The units will be flown on TIROS K, L, M, and N satellites. AMSU-A will also fly on the NASA EOD-PM satellite and the European METOP satellite. In addition, NOAA will provide an AMSU-A shipset to EUMETSAT for flight aboard the European Polar Orbiting Satellite. AMSU-A provides temperature profiles from the Earth's surface to a 43-kilometer altitude, total column of water content, and an indication-of-rainfall flag.
The world's first meteorological satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral on April 1, 1960. Named TIROS for Television Infrared Observation Satellite, it demonstrated the advantage of mapping the earth's cloud cover from satellite altitudes. TIROS showed clouds banded and clustered in unexpected ways. Sightings from the surface had not prepared meteorologists for the interpretation of the cloud patterns that the view from an orbiting satellite would show.
From April 1, 1960 to July 2, 1965 ten TIROS satellites were launched. The satellites ensured continuity of data throughout the early years. The first four TIROS satellites had an inclination of 48 degrees and the next four had an inclination of 58 degrees, thus they were not polar-orbiting. The last two TIROS were the first polar-orbiting meteorological satellites. The next series of satellites, named ESSA, for Environmental Science Services Administration, were launched from February 3, 1966 to Feb. 26, 1969. Nine satellites in the ESSA series were launched during this time. These satellites were also polar-orbiting satellites.
On Jan. 23, 1970, the first of the improved satellites was launched. This satellite was named ITOS 1, for Improved TIROS Operational Satellite. Between December 11, 1970 and July 29, 1976. Five ITOS satellites designated NOAA-1 through 5 were launched. NOAA-1 was the first satellite to bear the NOAA name and the first to be launched after the establishment of NOAA in October 1970.
From October 13, 1978 to July 23, 1981, satellites in the TIROS-N series were launched. The N represented the next generation of operational satellites. NOAA-6 and NOAA-7 were launched during this time frame. Flight of the AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) and TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder suite started on TIROS-N.
On March 28, 1983, the first of the Advanced TIROS-N (or ATN) satellites designated NOAA-8 was launched. These satellites are physically larger and have more power, than their predecessors, to accommodate more equipment. NOAA continues to operate the ATN series of satellites today with improved instruments. The current configuration is NOAA-14, launched Dec. 12, 1994, and NOAA-15, launched May 13, 1998. NOAA-15 is the first in a series of five satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities that will operate over the next decade. (This series is NOAA-K (15), -L, -M, -N, and N'.)
NOAA/POES launch dates:
- TIROS-N Launch Date: October 13, 1978
- NOAA-6 (A) Launch Date: June 27, 1979
- NOAA-B (B) Launch Date: May 29, 1980 - Launch failure
- NOAA-7 (C) Launch Date: June 23, 1981
- NOAA-8 (E) Launch Date: March 28, 1983
- NOAA-9 (F) Launch Date: December 12, 1984
- NOAA-10 (G) Launch Date: September 17, 1986
- NOAA-11 (H) Launch Date: September 24, 1988
- NOAA-12 (D) Launch Date: May 14, 1991
- NOAA-13 (I) Launch Date: August 9, 1993 – Power system failure
- NOAA-14 (J) Launch Date: December 30, 1994
- NOAA-15 (K) Launch Date: May 13, 1998
- NOAA-16 (L) Launch Date: September 21, 2000
- NOAA-17 (M) Launch Date: June 24, 2002