NOAA 2002-068
Contact: Patricia Viets
NOAA News Releases 2002
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A new environmental satellite, NOAA-M, is planned for launch June 24 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., NOAA and NASA announced today. NOAA-M will lift off aboard an Air Force Titan II launch vehicle at 11:22 a.m. PDT (2:22 p.m. EDT). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the Department of Commerce.

"The NOAA-M satellite will improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world," said VADM Conrad Lautenbacher, USN (ret.), under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, and NOAA administrator.

"The satellite will enable continuity of data for monitoring events such as El Niño, droughts, volcanic ash, fires, and floods. In addition, it will support the international COSPAS-SARSAT system by providing search and rescue capabilities essential for detection and location of ships, aircraft, and people in distress."

NOAA-M is the third in a series of five Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) with improved imaging and sounding capabilities that will operate over the next 10 years. Like other NOAA satellites, NOAA-M will collect environmental 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 weather and climate forecasts. Longer-term data records from the NOAA satellites will contribute to the understanding of climate change and President Bush's climate change research initiatives. NOAA-M will be re-named NOAA-17 after achieving orbit.

The polar-orbiting satellites monitor the entire Earth and track atmospheric variables and global weather patterns affecting the weather and climate of the United States. The satellites provide atmospheric data and cloud images, 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 which occurs 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 are lacking.

NOAA's 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 the polar-orbiting satellites for global forecasting and environmental monitoring. Both GOES and POES are necessary for providing a complete global-weather-monitoring system. Both systems 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. NOAA receives operational control of the NOAA-M spacecraft 21 days after launch. NASA's comprehensive on-orbit verification period will last until 45 days after launch. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., built the spacecraft, under contract with 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, these data are helping NASA scientists design instruments for follow-on missions.

For more information about NOAA-M and the polar orbiting satellites, see the following Web sites:

Editors Note: A complete NOAA-M video package will be broadcast during the NASA TV video file scheduled for noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight on Sunday, June 23 and Monday, June 24. NASA TV is broadcast on GE2, transponder 9C, C-band, located at 85 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 3880MHZ. Polarization is vertical and audio monaural at 6.8MHZ.