Atmospheric Sciences Meeting Report

Scientists Meet to Review Preparations for Satellite Launch

Center for Satellite Applications and Research JPSS 2017 Annual Science Team Meeting; College Park, Maryland, 14–18 August 2017

By Tom Atkins, Murty Divakarla, and

In August of last year, more than 300 scientists gathered to make final launch preparations for the latest of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) polar-orbiting satellites, the Joint Polar Satellite System 1 (JPSS-1). They also focused on calibration/validation (cal/val) of satellite data and derived products from the JPSS series of satellites; the uses of JPSS data for science development; and how to use JPSS data to communicate information about the state of the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and land surface.

This was the fourth Annual Science Team Meeting for the Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR) Joint Polar Satellite System. Attendees contributed nearly 200 presentations and 65 posters, and participants represented all aspects of the JPSS program and the polar satellite product user community.

JPSS is the latest generation of NOAA’s polar-orbiting satellites, and it provides daily global retrievals of various properties of Earth’s surface and atmosphere. There are currently two JPSS series satellites in orbit; the first, Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP), was launched in October 2011. The newest, JPSS-1, was launched on 18 November 2017, and it became known as NOAA-20 when it reached polar orbit later that week.

The theme of the 2017 annual meeting was “The Future with JPSS.” The program featured a plenary session each day on an innovative science topic such as the use of JPSS’s unique day/night band to capture various nighttime natural phenomenon and the new capabilities provided by the planned Earth Observing Nanosatellite–Microwave (EON-MW) constellation of small microwave sounding instruments.

Highlights included speakers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and National Weather Service, who gave examples of current uses of JPSS data products. A representative from the JPSS Program Office spoke about future JPSS missions for providing critical observations through 2030 and long-term agreements with international satellite agencies for continued cooperation and support.

Important topics covered in informal cross-team discussions included the reprocessing of older data using the latest algorithms to achieve a more consistent data record; the production of multisatellite blended data products; and improvements to the Cloud Mask product, which is used by the many downstream JPSS teams whose products are sensitive to the presence of clouds.

Notably, the user community desires high-quality blended data products from a fusion of geostationary and low Earth orbit satellites, including JPSS. In addition, the product teams demonstrated that they continue to fully use the capabilities of JPSS’s advanced sensors in the innovation of new JPSS data products, such as those tracking sea ice leads and ice flow.

The meeting also demonstrated that the product algorithms and cal/val work were ready for the November launch of JPSS-1. Attendees noted that the reprocessing of Suomi NPP data has progressed significantly in providing consistent mission-long data sets to the user community.

The meeting included in-depth presentations, face-to-face side meetings, and informal discussions that helped to resolve many issues and ambiguities and to mitigate risks like upstream hardware issues or program risks related to scheduling and budgeting. Participants indicated that the meeting met the envisioned objectives. The 2018 STAR JPSS Annual Science Team Meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place 27–30 August.

—Tom Atkins (email: [email protected]) and Murty Divakarla, IM Systems Group, Rockville, Md.; and Lihang Zhou, Center for Satellite Applications and Research, National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, College Park, Md.

Citation: Atkins, T., M. Divakarla, and L. Zhou (2018), Scientists meet to review preparations for satellite launch, Eos, 99, Published on 29 August 2018.
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