NOAA 2001-038
Contact: Pat viets


The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the environmental satellite NOAA-16, featuring improved imaging and sounding capabilities, replaced NOAA-14 on March 20.

NOAA-16, which successfully completed engineering and instrument calibration, is a Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite, POES. NOAA-16 is the second in a
series of five POES satellites that will operate over the next 10 years. Launched September 21, 2000, NOAA-16 replaces NOAA-14 which was launched in December
1994. As other NOAA Satellites, NOAA-16 collects meteorological data and transmits the information to users around the world to enhance weather and climate forecasting. In the United States, the data are used primarily by NOAA's National Weather Service for its three to 10- day weather forecasts and 30- to 90- day climate outlooks.

"With NOAA-16, we will get better measurements of atmospheric temperature and moisture values," said Mike Mignogno, NOAA's POES program manager. "These translate into better information, particularly in the troposphere, five to ten miles above the earth's surface. The result will be accurate, global, tropospheric temperature and moisture data under all sky conditions."

The POES satellites orbit the Earth from pole to pole, providing images of cloud cover, vertical temperature and humidity profiles, surface parameters such as sea surface temperature, snow, ice, and vegetation, and space environment parameters. The satellite also carries search and rescue instruments that are used internationally in locating ships and aircraft in distress. The use of satellites in search and rescue has been instrumental in saving more than 11,000 lives since the inception of the Search and Rescue Satellite-aided Tracking, or SARSAT, system in 1982.

The satellites are operated by NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service in Suitland, Md. NOAA operates two polar-orbiting and two geostationary environmental satellites. Currently, NOAA-15 and NOAA-16 are the two polar-orbiting satellites; and GOES-8 and -10 are the two geostationary satellites. NOAA also operates satellites in the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.

NOAA and NASA work together to develop and launch NOAA's environmental satellites. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is responsible for the construction, integration, and verification testing of the satellite, instruments, and ground equipment. NASA also arranges launch of the satellites with the U.S. Air Force.

Information on the polar satellites is available on the World Wide Web at: