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Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS)

The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) provides information about the physical properties of our atmosphere, such as temperature and moisture, which heavily influence weather patterns.

ATMS observes Earth in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, which allows it to see through clouds. ATMS currently flies on the Suomi NPP, NOAA-20 and NOAA-21 satellite missions and will also fly on the JPSS-3 and -4 satellite missions.

In conjunction with the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) instrument, ATMS provides all-weather microwave temperature and moisture data to produce three-dimensional atmospheric profiles.

Image of the ATMS instrument
Image of the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS).


Image of ATMS
  • Improves the accuracy of short- and medium-term weather forecasting, storm tracking and climate prediction models
  • Provides data for farming, flight-path planning, extreme weather preparedness, and ship navigation.

Together, CrIS and ATMS primarily provide data on the water cycle, which includes water vapor, clouds and precipitation. Because clouds are opaque in the infrared part of the spectrum (measured by the CrIS instrument) and largely transparent at microwave frequencies (measured by ATMS), operating these two instruments together makes it possible to cover a broader range of weather conditions. ATMS provides a view inside and below clouds and can be used to produce images inside storms, including hurricanes. This provides invaluable data for understanding storms and making predictions up to five to seven days in advance of a severe weather event.


Learn more about the ATMS in the following Story Map

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For a little-known satellite instrument, the microwave sounder has a major impact on our lives. These instruments feed the weather models that inform our daily forecasts and help us plan for extreme weather. And their long-term temperature records of our atmosphere have played a key role in helping scientists determine that humans are the cause of climate change.