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New Earth-monitoring weather satellite prepares for launch

The Joint Polar Satellite System launching on Nov. 1 will provide a new orbiting eye on our planet's tumultuous weather systems.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA will launch the third of five polar-orbiting satellites on Tuesday to investigate Earth's weather and climate (Nov. 1).

The JPSS-2 satellite, a component of the Joint Polar Satellite System, will launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California to offer meteorologists and climatologists crucial data to aid in the prediction of extreme weather events and to better understand how these events affect our planet.

In polar orbit above the planet, JPSS-2 will join the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP), which was launched in 2011, and NOAA-20, which was launched as JPSS-1 in 2017. As soon as JPSS-2 is in orbit and performing scientific operations, it will be given the new name NOAA-21. JPSS-3 and JPSS-4, two additional launches, are scheduled for 2027 and 2032, respectively.

JPSS-2 will join NOAA-20, which was launched as JPSS-1 in 2017, and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) in polar orbit above the earth. JPSS-2 will be renamed NOAA-21 after it is in orbit and conducting scientific missions. Two more launches, JPSS-3 and JPSS-4, are planned for 2027 and 2032, respectively.

Five important instruments, the majority of which are also aboard Suomi NPP and NOAA-20, will be carried into orbit by JPSS-2 in order to complete its mission.

The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) and the Cross-Track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) are two of these devices that will track air temperature and moisture content, providing Walsh with a "global 3D picture of the most fundamental information necessary for forecast models."

Both instruments will enhance one another. Because water vapour absorbs infrared light, CrIS' ability to see inside clouds is constrained. However, ATMS' microwave instrument can see through clouds and into the Centre of storms.

Libera, a different instrument, will serve in the same capacity as the less sophisticated Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument on Suomi NPP and NOAA-20. These instruments examine how much energy is collected by Earth's surface and atmosphere relative to how much is radiated back into space, and how this influences Earth's temperatures.

The Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) will monitor the ozone layer, looking for holes and how ozone and other aerosol concentrations change over time in different parts of the world.

The Visual Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), according to Walsh, is "basically the satellite's eyes." VIIRS will take visible and infrared images of Earth's surface, oceans, and atmosphere.

These images will show how much of the planet is covered in snow and ice, how much of it is cloudy (which can affect the energy balance), where fog covers the skies, how the color of the ocean relates to the amount of microscopic phytoplankton, how chlorophyll levels indicate the health of vegetation, and how hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and dust behave.

The Joint Polar Satellite System initiative, in particular, concentrates on watching extreme weather phenomena to better comprehend them. For instance, Hurricane Ian, which made landfall at the end of September in the Caribbean, Cuba, and the southeast United States, started as a tropical atmospheric wave off the coast of West Africa.

A typhoon in Japan can create heavy rain in California many days later, according to Walsh, while a storm in Africa can influence the development of a hurricane that reaches the East Coast.

The Joint Polar Satellite System project's goal is to attempt to separate the variables that affect Earth's weather and environment globally. The "butterfly effect" illustrates how intertwined Earth's weather systems really are.

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