NOAA’s JPSS-1 satellite, the second in the JPSS series of satellites, slated to launch in 2017, is currently going through environmental testing. Environmental testing simulates the harsh environments the satellite may experience during launch and once in orbit. The JPSS-1 satellite and its instruments will undergo a variety of rigorous tests during the environmental testing period, which include subjecting it to acoustics, vibration, electromagnetic, thermal vacuum conditions and compatibility testing with the ground system.
The environmental testing will take place at the Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. facility in Boulder, Colorado, where the spacecraft was assembled. The satellite will be placed inside a large vacuum chamber, where it is exposed to a simulated space environment to include extreme hot and cold temperatures approximately 10 degrees Celsius above and below what it could experience in space. The satellite will also undergo vibration and acoustic testing to simulate the experience of launching into space aboard a rocket, and electromagnetic testing to ensure it is properly protected from electromagnetic phenomena in space, like solar flares.
“The environmental testing period marks the shift from the development and integration of the satellite to the final testing phases that will verify it is ready for the severities of launch and space operations before it is shipped to the launch site,” said Harry Cikanek, JPSS program director.
JPSS-1 is scheduled for launch aboard a Delta II launch vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. JPSS-1 takes advantage of the successful technologies developed through the Suomi NPP satellite and has a design life of seven years. Once operational, the satellite will be known as NOAA-20 and will circle the Earth from pole-to-pole and cross the equator 14 times daily in the afternoon orbit—providing full global coverage twice a day.
JPSS series of satellites, starting with the Suomi NPP, represents significant technological and scientific advances in environmental monitoring and will help advance weather, climate, environmental and oceanographic forecasting and monitoring with greater accuracy. JPSS delivers key observations for the Nation's essential products and services, including forecasting severe weather like hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards days in advance, and assessing environmental hazards such as, droughts, forest fires, floods, poor air quality and harmful coastal waters, helping to secure a more “Weather-Ready Nation.”
JPSS enables forecasters and scientists to monitor and predict weather patterns with greater accuracy and to study long-term climate trends by extending the more than 30-year satellite data record. JPSS is a collaborative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its acquisition agent, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NOAA is responsible for managing and operating the JPSS program, and developing portions of the ground segment, while NASA is responsible for developing and building the JPSS instruments, spacecraft, and portions of the ground segment and providing launch services.