NOAA 2000-065
Contact: Pat Viets


A new environmental satellite, NOAA-L, is planned for launch September 20 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., NOAA and NASA announced today. NOAA-L will lift off aboard an Air Force Titan II launch vehicle at 3:22 a.m. PDT (6:22 a.m. EDT). The launch window extends for approximately 10 minutes.

"The NOAA-L satellite will improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world, said Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta."
"The satellite will continue the support of the international COSPAS-SARSAT system by providing search and rescue capabilities essential for detection and location of ships, aircraft, and people in distress," Mineta added.

NOAA-L is the second in a series of five Polar Operational Environmental Satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities that will operate over the next 12 years. Like other NOAA satellites, NOAA-L will collect meteorological data and transmit the information to users around the world to enhance weather forecasting. The data will be used primarily by NOAA's National Weather Service for its long-range weather and climate forecasts.

The polar-orbiting satellites monitor the entire Earth, tracking atmospheric variables and providing atmospheric data and cloud images. They track global weather patterns affecting the weather and climate of the United States. The satellites provide visible and infrared radiometer data for imaging purposes, radiation measurements, and temperature and moisture profiles. The polar orbiters' ultraviolet sensors also measure ozone levels in the atmosphere and are able to detect the ozone hole over Antarctica from mid-September to mid-November. Each day, these satellites send global measurements to NOAA's Command and Data Acquisition station computers, adding vital information to forecasting models, especially over the oceans, where conventional data is lacking.

NOAA's environmental satellite system is composed of two types of satellites: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites for national, regional, short-range warning and "now-casting"; and the polar-orbiting satellites for global, long-term forecasting and environmental monitoring. Both GOES and POES are necessary for providing a complete global weather monitoring system. Both also carry search and rescue instruments to relay signals from aviators and mariners in distress. These satellites are operated by NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service in Suitland, Md.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is responsible for the construction, integration, launch and verification testing of the spacecraft, instruments and unique ground equipment. NASA turns operational control of the NOAA-L spacecraft over to NOAA 10 days after launch. NASA's comprehensive on-orbit verification period is expected to last until approximately 45 days after launch. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., built the spacecraft, under contract to Goddard.

Data from the NOAA spacecraft are used by researchers within NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, a long-term research program designed to study Earth's land, oceans, atmosphere, ice and life as a total integrated system. In addition, this data is helping NASA scientists design instruments for follow-on missions.