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Joint Polar Satellite System

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JPSS-1 Has a New Name: NOAA-20

Nov 21, 2017


JPSS-1 not only reached polar orbit on Saturday, November 18; it also officially became known as NOAA-20.

Traditionally, when NOAA's polar-orbiting satellites were planned, designed and built, NOAA assigned each one with a letter (-A, -B, -C …). Then, when the satellite reached orbit after launch, it was given a number. For example, the polar-orbiting satellite NOAA-H launched on September 24, 1988. When it reached polar orbit, it became known as NOAA-11.

The polar-orbiting satellites of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1, -2, -3, and -4) are a bit different. Instead of letters, they are designated by numbers during their construction, testing, and launch phases. However, they still become NOAA-20, -21, -22, and -23 when they attain orbit. NOAA-20 takes its historical place in the sky as a next generation satellite with significant imaging capability improvements from its predecessors.

Why will their names change from "JPSS" to "NOAA"? According to NOAA documentation, the change is to maintain consistency in naming conventions that NOAA has followed since 1978 for polar-orbiting satellites.

Except for the NOAA-NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (Suomi NPP), which was developed as a joint research mission and therefore not renamed a numbered NOAA satellite when it reached orbit, NOAA's satellites are typically built in sets or series.

Now that JPSS-1 has reached polar orbit, the satellite’s designation has been transitioned to NOAA-20. However, the entire series of satellites, of which JPSS-1 is the first, is still referred to as the JPSS series.

Click here to get more detailed information about the satellite, take a look back at its journey to space, and read more about its mission to enhance weather forecasts three- to seven-day out, and beyond.

LIFT OFF! NOAA’s JPSS-1 Heads to Orbit

Nov 18, 2017

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:47 a.m. PST this morning. The satellite’s next-generation technology will help improve the timeliness and accuracy of U.S. weather forecasts three to seven days out.

“The value of the new JPSS satellite cannot be understated after this tragic hurricane season,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “JPSS offers an unparalleled perspective on our planet’s weather, granting NOAA advanced insights which will be used to guard American lives and communities.”

JPSS-1 will be renamed NOAA-20 when it reaches its final orbit. Scientists and forecasters will be able to use the satellite’s data officially after its five advanced instruments, all significantly upgraded from those on NOAA’s previous polar-orbiting satellites, complete three months of tests. The satellite is designed to operate for seven years, with the potential for several more years.

“This year’s hurricane and fire seasons demonstrated just how critical NOAA’s Earth observing satellites are for forecasting extreme weather and hazardous events,” said Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “JPSS joins the recently launched GOES-16 satellite to provide forecasters unprecedented access to high quality data needed for accurate forecasts, which save lives, protects property and safeguards our economic livelihood.”

The data these advanced instruments provide will improve weather forecasting, such as predicting a hurricane’s track, and aid in the recognition of climate patterns that can influence the weather, including El Nino and La Nina. They will also help emergency managers respond to events like wildfires and volcanic eruptions and help communities, recovering from severe storms, with better views of storm damage and show the extent of power outages. The data also will be available to aid scientists monitor changes in our environment.

“Building and launching JPSS-1 underscores NOAA’s commitment to putting the most scientifically advanced satellites as possible into orbit, giving our forecasters – and the public – greater confidence in weather forecasts up to seven days in advance, including the potential for severe or dangerous weather,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

JPSS-1 will join the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite in the same polar orbit, and will also provide scientists with observations of atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, and fire detection.

Lift Off

“Emergency managers increasingly rely on our forecasts to make critical decisions and take appropriateaction before a storm hits,” said Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Polar satellite observations not only help us monitor and collect information about current weather systems, but they provide data to feed into our weather forecast models.”

Together, NOAA and NASA oversee the development, launch, testing and operation all the satellites in the JPSS program. NOAA funds and manages the program, operations and data products. On behalf of NOAA, NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system and launches the satellites which NOAA then takes over to operate.

“Today’s launch is the latest example of the strong relationship between NASA and NOAA, contributing to the advancement of scientific discovery and the improvement of the U.S. weather forecasting capability by leveraging the unique vantage point of space to benefit and protect humankind,” said Sandra Smalley, director, NASA’s Joint Agency Satellite Division.

Ball Aerospace designed and built the JPSS-1 satellite bus and Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite instrument, integrated all five of the spacecraft’s instruments and performed satellite-level testing and launch support. Raytheon Corporation built the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Common Ground System. Harris Corporation built the Cross-track Infrared Sounder. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems built the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder and the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument.

The Excitement Is Building!


NOAA's next-generation polar-orbiting weather satellite, JPSS-1, is on the launch pad! In these images, courtesy of the United Launch Alliance and NASA, the satellite is encapsulated atop the Delta II rocket that will take it into space on November 18, 2017 at 1:47 am PST (4:47 am EST).

Visit for live coverage of the #JPSS-1 launch beginning at 1:15 am PST (4:15 am EST) and be sure to join us as we #Countdowntolaunch on Twitter!

Go JPSS-1!

JPSS-1 Launch Day Lingo!

A Delta II rocket carrying the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite lifts-off on October 28, 2011

“T- 3 … 2 … 1 … liftoff!” Tue., Nov. 14 at 1:47 a.m. PST (4:47 a.m. EST), when the launch of the Delta II rocket carrying JPSS-1 launch begins, will you be able to keep up with the launch day lingo?

To give you a head start, check out the following list of the most common terms, abbreviations and phrases you might hear during the JPSS-1satellite launch!

L- and T- L- (pronounced "L minus”) refers to the days, hours, and minutes remaining in the scheduled countdown to launch, which occurs at L-0. The “L” stands for launch.

T- (pronounced "T minus”) refers to the time remaining on the official countdown clock. The “T” stands for time. During planned holds in the countdown process (when the countdown clock is intentionally stopped), the T- time also stops. The L- time, however, is synced to the clock on the wall and continues to advance.

Liftoff - Liftoff denotes the exact moment when the rocket, with the satellite onboard, begins to leave the launch pad under its own power, beginning its journey to space.

MECO “Main Engine Cut-Off”and SECO “Second Engine Cut-Off” - MECO refers to the moment when the Upper Stage has completed a main engine burn and cuts off, entering a coasting phase. JPSS-1 will go through one main engine start and cut-off, and two second-stage ignitions and cut-offs on its way to polar orbit.

Now that you know what these terms mean, follow the launch on Twitter @NOAASatellites and NASATV. Coverage begins Tue., Nov. 14 at 1:47 a.m. PST (4:47 a.m. EST)! And be sure to Follow the #Countdowntolaunch on Twitter!

JPSS-1: Increasing the Accuracy of Three- to Seven-Day Forecasts!


Once in orbit, NOAA's #JPSS1 will circle the globe 14 times per day, affording the satellite two complete views of the weather around the world every 24 hours!

Data from JPSS-1 will support a broad range of environmental monitoring applications including weather analysis and forecasting, climate research and prediction, global sea surface temperature measurements, atmospheric soundings of temperature and humidity, ocean dynamics research, volcanic eruption monitoring, forest fire detection, global vegetation analysis, search and rescue, and many other applications. The most important function of JPSS, however, is that it will increase the timeliness and accuracy of forecasts three to seven days in advance of a severe weather event. NOAA's National Weather Service uses JPSS data as a critical input for numerical forecast models, providing the basis for these mid-range forecasts.

JPSS satellites also provide support for zero- to three-day operational forecasting, which is particularly important in Polar Regions where other observational data are sparse. In Alaska, JPSS provides critical data for nearly all of the weather forecasting for aviation, as well as for the economically vital maritime, oil and gas industries.

To learn more about the benefits of JPSS-1, check out this video!

Watch the JPSS-1 Launch Press Conferences

Watch Live

If you’re not going to make it to California to see NOAA's JPSS-1 rocket into space, don’t worry! You can watch it live wherever you are via the NASA website!

NASA TV will begin live coverage of the launch beginning at 4:15 a.m. EST, 1:15 a.m. PST on Nov. 14 and conclude after the CubeSat deployment.

You can watch liftoff LIVE at:

Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the JPSS-1 flight will be available on

Coverage will include live streaming and blog updates beginning at 4:15 a.m. EST Nov. 14 as the countdown milestones occur. You can follow countdown coverage on our launch blog at

However you decide to watch the launch, don't forget to LIVE tweet during the main event! Use the hashtag #JPSS1!

NASA TV will also air two JPSS-1 prelaunch news briefings on Wednesday, Nov. 8. Both briefings will be broadcast from NASA’s Press Site Auditorium at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

You can watch the press conference and science briefing LIVE at:

The prelaunch news conference will be held at 4 p.m. EST.

Briefing participants will be:

  • Steve Volz, director, NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service
  • Greg Mandt, director, Joint Polar Satellite System Program
  • Sandra Smalley, director, Joint Agency Satellite Division, NASA Headquarters
  • Omar Baez, NASA launch director
  • Scott Messer, United Launch Alliance program manager for NASA missions
  • Capt. Ross Malugani, launch weather officer, Vandenberg Air Force Base 30th Space Wing

Following the prelaunch news conference, a science briefing will be held at 5:30 p.m.

Briefing participants will be:
  • Mitch Goldberg, NOAA chief program scientist, Joint Polar Satellite System
  • Joe Pica, director, NOAA’s National Weather Service Office of Observations
  • James Gleason, NASA senior project scientist, Joint Polar Satellite System
  • Jana Luis, division chief, predictive services, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

JPSS-1 and Its Sweet Suite of Instruments


NOAA's JPSS, the Nation’s next generation of polar-orbiting environmental satellites wouldn't be able to provide the sophisticated meteorological data and observations of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land without its five state-of-the-art instruments:

  • The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS), which provides atmospheric temperature and moisture for operational weather and climate applications.
  • The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), which provides more accurate, detailed atmospheric temperature and moisture observations for weather and climate applications.
  • The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which collects visible and infrared imagery and global observations of land, atmosphere, cryosphere and oceans.
  • The Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS), which tracks the health of the ozone layer and measures the concentration of ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES), which measures reflected sunlight and thermal radiation emitted by the Earth.

To learn more about #JPSS1's sweet suite of cutting-edge hardware and how it will support the JPSS mission, visit the JPSS website at

Get to Know JPSS’s Launch Vehicle

Launch Vehicle

At launch time, JPSS-1 will weigh about 5,000 pounds, so getting it from Earth to space will require quite an effort. Fortunately, we have a launch vehicle that’s up to the task!

JPSS-1 will rocket into space aboard 128-foot Delta II 7920-10 rocket consisting of a booster stage, hypergolic second stage, nine solid rocket motors and a 10-foot diameter payload fairing. (Whew!)

The JPSS-1 launch will mark the 53rd Delta II mission for NASA and 154th launch since the rocket’s first launch in 1989. Previous Delta II missions for NASA include the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers as well as the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite, the precursor to the next-generation polar-orbiting satellites in the JPSS series.

What Is a Polar Orbit Anyway?

Did you know that the satellites of the Joint Polar Satellite System will travel in what’s called a “polar orbit”? This means that JPSS satellites will circle the Earth, from north pole to south pole, over and over as it spins. Further, the satellites travel so fast that, in a 24-hour period, they will circle the planet 14 times and glimpse the weather around the entire globe twice a day!

As they travel around the Earth, JPSS satellites will pick up a lot of data about the planet’s atmosphere, land, and oceans. This data will be used to support a broad range of applications, including weather analysis and forecasting, climate research and prediction, global sea surface temperature measurements, atmospheric soundings of temperature and humidity, ocean dynamics research, volcanic eruption monitoring, forest fire detection, global vegetation analysis, search and rescue, and more!

Learn more about on polar orbits and the path the soon-to-launch JPSS-1 satellite will travel as it circumnavigates the globe in this video!

Get Acquainted with JPSS!

JPSS-1 is the first in the series of JPSS (Joint Polar Satellite System) satellites that will keep an eye on the weather and environment. These satellites will circle the Earth from North Pole to South Pole 14 times each day as the planet spins below. This allows JPSS to see the whole Earth twice every day!

JPSS-1 is scheduled to launch early in the morning on November 10, 2017, just 12 days from today! It has a suite of advanced instruments to collect information about what’s happening in the atmosphere, on the land, and on the surface of the oceans. From its orbit 512 miles above Earth, JPSS-1 will help us:

  • Create more accurate weather forecasts up to 7 days in advance.

  • Track how the weather affects plants, including forests and the crops that grow our food.

  • Monitor ocean health by taking detailed measurements of water temperature and color.

  • Keep tabs on the atmosphere to create earlier warnings of severe weather.

  • Watch for volcanoes and forest fires around the world to monitor air quality and enhance public safety.

Before it lifts off and begins its mission, take a moment to get acquainted!

Stay up to date on the latest JPSS-1 developments via the NOAA Satellites launch page!

You can also learn more about the spacecraft’s instruments and mission on the Joint Polar Satellite Systems website.

JPSS and Its Instruments

JPSS-1 Instruments

Thanks to its five advanced instruments, the soon-to-launch JPSS-1 will gather global measurements of:

  • Atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic conditions, including sea and land surface temperatures.
  • Vegetation.
  • Clouds.
  • Rainfall.
  • Snow and ice cover.
  • Fire locations and smoke plumes.
  • Atmospheric temperature, water vapor and ozone.
Learn more about it sweet suite of cutting edge instruments – ATMS, CERES, CrLS, OMPS and VIIRS – on the Joint Polar Satellite Systems website.

JPSS & Alaska – Two Great Things That Go Great Together

JPSS & Alaska – Two Great Things That Go Great Together
This image from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite shows the Aurora Borealis (aka: the Northern Lights) over Alaska during the early morning hours of November 10, 2016. Auroras are caused when charged particles from the Sun, mainly electrons and protons, interact with the upper atmosphere, and from its position 530 miles above the Earth, Suomi NPP can detect these upper-atmospheric events with the aid of the VIIRS instrument's Day- Night Band.

Every year on June 18, the residents of Fairbanks, Alaska, celebrate the Midnight Sun Festival. As its name implies, the annual soiree is a celebration of the “midnight sun” -- the natural phenomenon that occurs near the summer solstice wherein the sun is visible for 24 hours (assuming fair weather).

With the sun up for a full 24-hours, neither the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite nor the soon-to-launch JPSS-1 will need the Day-Night Band to get a good look at Alaska. In the winter, though, it's a much different story.

According to Eric Stevens of The Geographic Information Network of Alaska, the Day-Night Band (DNB) offered by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument is, "probably the single most important piece of the VIIRS instrument to the National Weather Service in Alaska." Why? Because as Stevens puts it, "The instrument is so sensitive you can see visible-spectrum light at night! It's better than night-vision goggles!"

To learn why Suomi NPP's Day-Night Band is so important for weather forecasting in the 49th state, check out this video featuring Eric Stevens of the Geographic Information Network of Alaska.

Click here to learn more about the vehicle that will take JPSS-1 to the stars!

JPSS-1 Launch Site
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Launch Sequence

JPSS-1/NOAA-20 Launch

4th Qtr FY 2017

JPSS-2 Launch Readiness

1st Qtr FY 2022

JPSS-3 Launch Readiness

FY 2026

JPSS-4 Launch Readiness

FY 2031