Developing the Next Generation of Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites: A Collaborative Effort between NOAA, NASA and Industry Partners
The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the nation’s advanced series of polar-orbiting environmental satellites. Considered the backbone of the global observing system, JPSS satellites circle Earth from pole to pole and cross the equator 14 times daily—providing full global coverage twice a day.
JPSS satellites provide sophisticated meteorological data and observations of atmosphere, ocean, and land for short-term, seasonal, and long-term monitoring and forecasting. NOAA’s National Weather Service uses this data to increase the accuracy of forecasts three to seven days in advance of a severe weather event. These forecasts allow for early warnings and enable emergency managers to make timely decisions to protect American lives and property, including ordering effective evacuations.
JPSS satellites also provide support for zero- to three-day operational forecasting. JPSS data are 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.
As the nation’s polar-orbiting satellite fleet, JPSS also enables scientists and forecasters to study long-term climate trends by extending the more than 30-year satellite data record.
Information from JPSS satellites supports every aspect of NOAA’s mission, ensuring a more “Weather-Ready Nation,” healthy coasts, resilient coastal communities, and adapting and mitigating climate change.
Satellites in the JPSS constellation gather global measurements of conditions in the atmosphere, oceans, and on land—including temperature, moisture, clouds, rainfall, dense fog, volcanic ash, fire locations, smoke plumes, vegetation, snow and ice cover, and ozone.
JPSS includes five polar-orbiting satellites with four or more instruments and a versatile ground system. The satellites are the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP), NOAA-20 (previously called JPSS-1), JPSS-2, JPSS-3, and JPSS-4. The ground system, which allows the satellites to communicate their data back to Earth, also supports satellite missions operated by partner organizations, such as the Department of Defense, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The instruments currently flying on board NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP are the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS), Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), and the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS). JPSS-2 is scheduled to launch in 2022, and JPSS-3 and -4 have anticipated launch dates in 2028 and 2032, respectively.
The Joint Polar Satellite System program consists of two projects supporting the new generation of polar-orbiting operational environmental satellites.
JPSS Flight Project
The Flight project designs, builds, tests, and launches satellites in the JPSS system. Between 2011 and 2032, this project will launch five satellites: Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, the technology demonstration for JPSS, launched in 2011; JPSS-1, now called NOAA-20, launched in 2017; JPSS-2; JPSS-3; and JPSS-4. These satellites carry four or more instruments that 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.
JPSS delivers key observations for the nation's essential products and services, including forecasting severe weather like hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards days in advance, and assessing environmental hazards such as droughts, forest fires, poor air quality and harmful coastal waters. Further, JPSS will provide continuity of critical, global observations of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land through 2038.
JPSS Ground Project
The Ground project maintains a modern ground system to support Suomi NPP, NOAA-20 and a diverse set of low Earth-orbiting satellites used for operational weather forecasting, environmental monitoring and climate research. Developed by NASA on behalf of NOAA, the JPSS Ground System features high data capacity, low data latency, improved data quality and high operational availability to meet the nation’s critical needs for accurate and timely weather forecasting. It is designed to provide satellite constellation management, mission planning and scheduling, satellite command and control, data acquisition, data routing, data processing, product generation and distribution and system sustainment services. In addition, the JPSS Ground System provides instrument and data product calibration and validation functions and supports field terminal users with software, documentation, and operations support data.
The data products produced by the JPSS Ground System include detailed cloud coverage, atmospheric temperature and pressure, ozone distribution, as well as snow cover, vegetation, aerosols, and Earth radiation budget information. This wealth of information enables numerous users to monitor and predict changes in weather, climate and ocean conditions.
The JPSS program works closely with both national and international partners to facilitate effective collaborations to make JPSS data readily available to support weather operations and long-term research, as well as to ensure that partners are prepared to utilize that data.
JPSS engages with partners in all facets of the program, including scientific research, user requirement reviews, and through operational and research distribution. JPSS also regularly interacts with its partners at scientific conferences and through program outreach efforts. In interactions with NOAA operational users, JPSS learns and understands their requirements, allowing JPSS to provide satellite products that meet those operational needs and support real-time weather operations.
The JPSS program also works closely with other users within the federal government and the international user community. The program assists in applying scientific research to ensure that the data and products are of the highest quality. The program is also positioned to leverage continuing work from the NOAA research agencies and other national research organizations as well as the NOAA Cooperative Institutes.
JPSS's Direct Broadcast partners have become a critical part of the program's success. This partnership ensures that antennas and algorithms are available to provide critical data quickly to data-sparse areas of the globe.
JPSS data is critical to protecting U.S. lives and property and the program is committed to providing this vital data to help minimize the impacts of weather and environmental hazards.