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NPP Satellite Acquires First VIIRS Image

Photonics.com
Nov 2011
GREENBELT, Md., Nov. 28, 2011 — The Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard NASA’s newest Earth-observing satellite has acquired its first measurements, resulting in a high-resolution image of a broad swath of eastern North America from Canada’s Hudson Bay, past Florida to the northern coast of Venezuela.

“This image is a next step forward in the success of VIIRS and the NPP mission,” said James Gleason, a project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

VIIRS is one of five instruments onboard the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite, which launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 28. VIIRS will collect radiometric imagery in visible and infrared wavelengths of the Earth’s land, atmosphere and oceans. VIIRS data, collected from 22 channels across the electromagnetic spectrum, will be used to observe the Earth’s surface, including fires, ice, ocean color, vegetation, clouds, and land and sea temperatures.


For the next five years, NASA’s Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite will acquire data on the Earth’s surface, including fires, ice, vegetation, clouds, and land and sea temperatures. (Image: NASA/NPP Team)

“VIIRS heralds a brightening future for continuing these essential measurements of our environment and climate,” said Diane Wickland, NPP program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington. She adds that all of NPP’s instruments will be up and running by mid-December and that NPP will begin 2012 by sending down complete data.

“NPP is right on track to ring in the New Year,” said Ken Schwer, NPP project manager at NASA Goddard. “Along with VIIRS, NPP carries four more instruments that monitor the environment on Earth and the planet’s climate, providing crucial information on long-term patterns to assess climate change and data used by meteorologists to improve short-term weather forecasting.”

NPP serves as a bridge mission from NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) of satellites to the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program that will also collect weather and climate data. NASA Goddard manages the NPP mission for the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington. The JPSS program provides the NPP ground system, and NOAA provides operational support.

During NPP’s five-year life, the mission will extend more than 30 important long-term data sets that include measurements of the atmosphere, land and oceans. NASA has been tracking many of these properties for decades. NPP will continue measurements of land surface vegetation, sea surface temperature and atmospheric ozone that began more than 25 years ago.

“The task now for the science community is to evaluate VIIRS performance and determine the accuracy of its data products,” said Chris Justice, a professor of geography at the University of Maryland, College Park, who will be using VIIRS data in his research.

“These long-term data records are critical in monitoring how the Earth’s surface is changing — either from human activity or through climate change.”

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/npp  


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