September 5 2014

Satellite Data from Japanese Partner Now Available to Direct Readout Users in the United States

In 2013, NOAA signed an amendment to an existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to receive data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) instrument on the JAXA Global Change Observation Mission-Water (GCOM-W1) polar-orbiting satellite. The amendment provides for direct reception of AMSR2 data at specific U.S. locations and expands NOAA-JAXA cooperation under a 2011 agreement through which NOAA provides ground data acquisition and communications support for GCOM-W1 in exchange for rapid access to AMSR2 data and JAXA processing software. These data enable NOAA to meet key precipitation, snow cover, water vapor, soil moisture, and sea surface temperature needs, among other critical measurements.

gcom madison wisconsin
First GCOM-W1 AMSR2 image captured via direct readout in Madison, Wisconsin on July 29, 2014. Credit: University of Wisconsin CSPP Team
Thanks to funding from NOAA, data from the satellite will be available to direct readout users at sites in Madison, Wisconsin and Monterey, California where antennas are now being tested. Each time the satellite passes over these locations in orbit, data are transmitted to waiting antennas on the ground. This initiative improves upon NOAA’s current capabilities to receive AMSR2 data from GCOM-W1. The direct readout process accelerates the ability to make the data operationally available for forecasting purposes.

Additional antennas will be built at sites in the coming year in Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Guam, for a total of seven locations across the U.S. and its territories that will be able to rapidly provide data from the satellite to regional forecast areas. Not only will these antennas be able to receive data from GCOM-W1, they will also process data from all NOAA Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES), NASA Earth Observing Satellites (EOS), the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite, and future Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellites.

"The direct readout of GCOM-W1 AMSR2 data over U.S. areas of interest is a major accomplishment for NOAA," said NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Chief Program Scientist Mitch Goldberg. "AMSR2 data are used for many applications, including assessing the strength of hurricanes and typhoons. GCOM-W1 data will now be available in minutes instead of upwards of two hours, enabling the National Hurricane Center to have faster access to critical data used in forecasting extreme weather events that can have catastrophic impacts on lives and property."

JAXA’s GCOM consists of two satellites, Water (GCOM-W) and Climate (GCOM-C). GCOM-W1, the first satellite in the program, was launched on May 17, 2012 UTC. NOAA's GCOM-W1/AMSR2 Product Development and Validation Project provides NOAA's users access to critical geophysical products derived from AMSR2. These products are detailed in NOAA's Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Level 1 Requirements Document Supplement.

Click here to read more about partnership between NOAA/JPSS and JAXA.

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