New polar-orbiting satellite to offer more detailed data for forecasts

NASA sent a new satellite into orbit this morning, setting the stage for enhanced weather data meteorologists can use to develop severe weather forecasts days in advance.

The satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly before 5 a.m. Central Daylight Time aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. At about 5:45 a.m. CDT, the satellite separated from the rocket and began its orbit.

The satellite features five new instruments that will collect more detailed information about Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans, NOAA officials say. NASA will use the satellite as a research mission, while NOAA will use the data for short and long-term weather forecasting and environmental monitoring.

“This year has been one for the record books for severe weather,” Dr. Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, said in a prepared statement. “The need for improved data…has never been greater.”

The new satellite and “next generation satellite system” under development by NASA and NOAA “will enhance our ability to alert the public with as much lead time as possible,” she said.

The new satellite will orbit Earth every 102 minutes, flying 512 miles above the surface, monitoring atomospheric conditions below. The first data should become available in about 90 days, replacing data from the NOAA-19 satellite which passes over the U.S. during full daylight hours.