NOAA 2000-R322
Contact: Pat Viets


The nation's newest polar-orbiting environmental satellite, NOAA-16, has successfully completed a comprehensive, on-orbit verification by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The satellite, launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was turned over to NOAA today.

After NOAA checks out the data processing systems, the satellite will be placed into operations. This is expected to take place in early January.

NOAA-16, launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Sept. 21, will improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world. It is the second in a series of five polar-orbiting satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities that will operate over the next ten years.

"The NOAA-16 satellite is working beautifully," said Harry McCain, NASA's project manager for the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite program.

"We're extremely pleased with the success of the verification process, and look forward to a successful mission for NOAA-16," said Mike Mignogno, NOAA's polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite manager.

"This success is due to the professionalism of a large team of NASA, NOAA and contractor personnel," McCain added. "Our primary contractors are Lockheed Martin, ITT, Aerojet, Ball Aerospace, Panametrics and L3 Communications. We also have international partners from the U.K., France and Canada. All are to be congratulated for their significant contributions in achieving our joint goal of success for the NOAA-16 mission."

NASA engineers performed a series of over 300 on-orbit verification tests since the launch to establish a satellite performance baseline designed to characterize all aspects of instrument and spacecraft operation. The resulting information provides NOAA with a database to support product development and performance monitoring during the operational phase of the mission. This same data provides NASA with valuable insight into overall spacecraft subsystem and instrument interaction, so that enhancements and/or ground test modifications may be applied, if appropriate, to the follow on satellites, NOAA-M, N, and N Prime.

"All the instruments, including the Advanced Microwave Sounding Units suite of instruments, are working well," McCain said. The sounding instruments will provide critical information for weather forecasting and climate modeling.

The direct broadcast of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer instrument data is providing imagery to scientific, commercial and educational groups throughout the world. Once NOAA-16 is fully operational, the search and rescue instruments will continue to support a global community that has established ground stations that "listen" for distress beacons relayed through the NOAA polar and Russian Cospas satellites.

For about 40 years, NASA and NOAA have worked jointly to perfect, develop and continue the polar-orbiting program. Goddard engineers are responsible for the construction, integration, launch and verification testing of the spacecraft, instruments and unique ground equipment.

NOAA is responsible for program funding and the on-orbit operation of the multi-satellite system. NOAA also determines the need for satellite replacement. NOAA designs, develops, installs and integrates the ground system needed to acquire, process and disseminate the data from the sensors on the satellites.