Polar Operational Environmental Satellites

The Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) was a constellation of polar orbiting weather satellites funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) with the intent of improving the accuracy and detail of weather analysis and forecasting.[1] The Spacecraft were provided by NASA and the European Space Agency, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center oversaw the manufacture, integration and test of the NASA-provided TIROS satellites.[2] The first polar-orbiting weather satellite launched as part of the POES constellation was the Television Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS), which was launched on April 1, 1960. The final spacecraft, NOAA-19, was launched in February 2009. [3] The ESA-provided MetOp satellite operated by EUMETSAT utilize POES-heritage instruments for the purpose of data continuity. The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), which was launched on November 18, 2017, is the successor to the POES Program.[4]

On-orbit satellite operations of POES is performed by NOAA's Office of Satellite and Product Operations (OSPO).[5]

Daily global coverage

Operational polar satellites
Notational local equatorial crossing times, showing POES (and other) satellites.

Each POES satellite completes roughly 14.1 orbits per day. Since the number of orbits per day is not an integer, the ground tracks do not repeat on a daily basis. The systems includes both morning and afternoon satellites which provide global coverage four times daily.[5]


Data from the POES support a broad range of environmental monitoring applications including weather analysis and forecasting, climate research and prediction, global sea surface temperature measurements, atmospheric soundings of temperature and humidity, ocean dynamics research, volcanic eruption monitoring, forest fire detection, global vegetation analysis, search and rescue, and many other applications.[5]

One of the key instruments of the current POES MetOp-B system is the High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS/4). HIRS/4 senses within 20 channels ranging from visible bands to long wave infrared (0.69-14.96 micron wavelengths), to sense variation of temperature, humidity, and pressures within the atmosphere.[3] The data collected from HIRS/4 is collaboratively used with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Instrument (AMSU) to advance research in sea surface temperatures, cloud coverage analysis, ozone concentrations throughout the atmosphere and earth's radiance.[2][3]


POES has been used by the Search and Rescue community since 1982. COSPAS-SARSAT is the international humanitarian Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System that is responsible for alerting and locating information to search and rescue authorities. COSPAS-SARSAT satellites detect 406 MHz distress signals at all times from nearly any place on the globe. Each 406 MHz beacon has a unique fifteen digit identification (ID) code embedded within its signal which allows rescuers to have an identification of the party in distress before they head out on the rescue. There is no charge for this service provided in conjunction with NOAA and SARSAT.[6]


  • TIROS-1 - Launched 1 April 1960 from Cape Canaveral, FL[7]
  • TIROS-2 - Launched on November 23, 1960 from Cape Canaveral, FL[8]
  • TIROS-N - Launched November 1978. Ended February 1981.
  • NOAA-6 - Launched July 1979. Ended November 1986.
  • NOAA-7 - Launched August 1981. Ended January 1985.
  • NOAA-8 - Launched May 1983. Ended October 1985.
  • NOAA-10 - Launched October 1986. Ended August 1991.
  • NOAA-12 - Launched June 1991. Ended March 2001.
  • NOAA-14 - Launched February 1994. Ended December 2004.
  • NOAA-15 - Launched July 1998. Still in Use.
  • NOAA-16 - Launched January 2001. Ended June 2014.
  • NOAA-17 - Launched 24 June 2002 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, USA. Ended April 2014
  • NOAA-18 - Launched 20 May 2005 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, USE. Still in use.
  • NOAA-19 - Launched on February 6, 2009, the fifth and last in the current series of polar-orbiting satellites[8] Still in use.
    • MetOp-B - Launched 17 September 2012 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan[9]. Still in use.
    • MetOp-C - Launched 7 November 2018 from Kourou, French Guiana. Still in use.

The MetOp missions are not part of POES, but use POES heritage instruments.

See also


  1. ^ "EUMETSAT Polar System - Programme Background". EUMETSAT. Archived from the original on 2008-11-23.
  2. ^ a b "POES Project". NASA. Archived from the original on 2008-09-26.
  3. ^ a b c ". . . P O E S . ." poes.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  4. ^ "NOAA/NASA Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Management Control Plan (MCP) 2013" (PDF). January 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Polar Orbiting Satellites". NOAA. Archived from the original on 2007-12-20.
  6. ^ "COSPAS SARSAT - Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System" (PDF). NOAA. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 19, 2017. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  7. ^ "A History of POES". poes.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  8. ^ a b "POES Timeline". poes.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  9. ^ "MetOp-B Launches with NASA Goddard-Developed Instruments."NASA. Retrieved: 21 June 2012.
Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system (GOES), operated by the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service division, supports weather forecasting, severe storm tracking, and meteorology research. Spacecraft and ground-based elements of the system work together to provide a continuous stream of environmental data. The National Weather Service (NWS) and the Meteorological Service of Canada use the GOES system for their North American weather monitoring and forecasting operations, and scientific researchers use the data to better understand land, atmosphere, ocean, and climate interactions.

The GOES system uses geosynchronous satellites that, since the launch of SMS-1 in 1974, have been a basic element of U.S. weather monitoring and forecasting.

The procurement, design, and manufacture of GOES satellites is overseen by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NOAA is the official provider of both GOES terrestrial data and GOES space weather data. Data can also be accessed using the SPEDAS software.

List of Earth observation satellites

Partial list of Earth observation satellites by series/program.


NOAA-14 (or NOAA-J) was a U.S. weather satellite operated by the NOAA. NOAA-14 continued the third-generation operational, Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) series operated by the National Environmental Satellite Service (NESS) of the NOAA. NOAA-12 continued the series of Advanced TIROS-N NOAA-14 was launched on an Atlas E rocket on December 30, 1994 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.


NOAA-6, designated NOAA-A before launch, was a weather satellite operated by NOAA as part of its National Operational Environmental Satellite System. It was launched into a Sun-synchronous orbit by NASA aboard an Atlas F launch vehicle on 27 June 1979 from Vandenberg Air Force Base SLC-3W. Based on the experimental TIROS-N satellite, it performed monitoring of ice and snow cover, agriculture, oceanography, volcanism, ozone and the space environment, in addition to its regular meteorological observations.Its instruments included the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR/1) for global cloud cover observations, the TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS) suite for atmospheric temperature and water vapor profiling, the Space Environment Monitor (SEM) for measuring proton and electron fluxes, and the Data Collection and Platform Location System (DCPLS) for relaying data from balloons and ocean buoys. The TOVS suite consists of three subsystems: the High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder 2 (HIRS/2), the Stratospheric Sounding Unit (SSU), and the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU).The HIRS/2 instrument failed on 19 September 1983, and the spacecraft was placed in reserve in early 1984 as NOAA prioritized operations of NOAA-7 and NOAA-8. It was returned to operational status after NOAA-8 failed in June 1984, and continued to return data until its decommissioning on 31 March 1987.


NOAA-7, designated NOAA-C before launch, was an American weather satellite launched in June 1981 as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) program. It was used to support the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) during 1978–1984. An earlier launch, NOAA-B, was scheduled to become NOAA-7, however NOAA-B failed to reach its required orbit.The launch of NOAA-7 took place at 10:52:59 UTC (3:53 a.m. PST) on June 23, 1981 from Space Launch Complex 3W at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NOAA-7 was launched atop an Atlas E/F rocket with a Star-37S-ISS upper stage.

The NOAA-7 satellite had a mass of 588.9 kilograms (1,298 lb). The satellite's design provided an economical and stable sun synchronous platform for advanced operational instruments to measure the Earth's atmosphere, its surface and cloud cover, and the near space environment. The primary sensors included an Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and a TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS). One of the primary mission sensors, the High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS), failed February 7, 1985. There were a number of secondary experiments on-board NOAA-7. These include a Space Environment Monitor (SEM) and a Data Collection and Platform Location System (DCPLS). The United States Air Force also provided a contamination monitor to assess contamination sources, levels and effects for consideration on future spacecraft.

NOAA-7 was based upon the Block 5D spacecraft bus developed for the U.S. Air Force. The satellite was capable of maintaining an earth-pointing accuracy of better than ±0.1° with a motion rate of less than 0.035 degrees/second.NOAA-7 was withdrawn from use in June 1986 after its power system malfunctioned. In August 1997 the decommissioned satellite experienced an abrupt 1 second change in orbital period. At the same time 3 new debris particles were observed. It is unclear if this was caused by an internal release of energy or collision with an unidentified object. As of December 8, 2013, the derelict satellite remains in a 834 by 850 km (518 by 528 mi) orbit, inclined at 98.87 degrees and with a period of 101.62 minutes.


The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) was to be the United States' next-generation satellite system that would monitor the Earth's weather, atmosphere, oceans, land, and near-space environment. NPOESS satellites were to host proven technologies and operational versions of sensors that are currently under operational-prototyping by NASA. The estimated launch date for the first NPOESS satellite, "C1" or "Charlie 1" was around 2013. Issues with sensor developments were the primary cited reason for delays and cost-overruns.

NPOESS was to be operated by the NOAA / NESDIS / NPOESS Program Executive Office Flight Operations at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility (NSOF) in Suitland, MD. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (NGAS) was the primary system integrator for the NPOESS project. Raytheon, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and Boeing were developing the sensors.

NPOESS was to be a replacement for both the United States Department of Defense's DMSP and the NOAA Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) series. The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) was planned as a pathfinder mission for NPOESS. The project had to go through three Nunn-McCurdy reviews, Congressional hearings that are automatically triggered when a program goes over budget by more than 25%. It was launched five years behind schedule, on October 28, 2011.The White House announced on February 1, 2010, that the NPOESS satellite partnership was to be dissolved, and that two separate lines of polar-orbiting satellites to serve military and civilian users would be pursued instead:

The NOAA/NASA portion is called the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). The first satellite in the program - originally called JPSS-1, but now known as NOAA-20 - was constructed by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., under a fixed price contract of $248 million with a performance period through Feb. 1, 2015. The common ground system was constructed by Raytheon. NOAA-20 launched on November 18, 2017.

The Defense Department's portion was called DWSS (Defense Weather Satellite System). In January 2012, the US Air Force cancelled the program.

Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite

Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS), is an suite of instruments built by Ball Aerospace that measure the global distribution of ozone and, less frequently, how it is distributed vertically within the stratosphere. The suite flies on the Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 (formerly JPSS-1) satellites along with several other instruments. It had been intended to also fly on the NPOESS, for which the NPP was a preparatory project, but the dissolution of that project was announced in 2010. OMPS launched on October 28, 2011.The three components of the suite are Nadir, which looks straight down, Limb, which looks down at an angle, and the Main Electronics Box (MEB), which controls Nadir, Limb and communication. Nadir and Limb are on the Suomi NPP, while the MEB is on NOAA-20. Nadir itself has two spectrometers: a profiler and a mapper. It will be included on JPSS-2, which is scheduled for launch in 2021.OMPS weighs 56 kilograms and runs on an average power of 85 Watts.

Suomi NPP

The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership or Suomi NPP, previously known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) and NPP-Bridge, is a weather satellite operated by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was launched in 2011 and continues to operate.

Suomi was originally intended as a pathfinder for the NPOESS program, which was to have replaced NOAA's Polar Operational Environmental Satellites and the U.S. Air Force's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Suomi was launched in 2011 after the cancellation of NPOESS to serve as a stop-gap between the POES satellites and the Joint Polar Satellite System which will replace them. Its instruments provide climate measurements that continue prior observations by NASA's Earth Observing System.

The satellite is named after Verner E. Suomi, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The name was announced on January 24, 2012, three months after the satellite's launch.The satellite was launched from Space Launch Complex 2W at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by a United Launch Alliance Delta II 7920-10C on October 28, 2011. The satellite was placed into a sun-synchronous orbit 824 km (512 miles) above the Earth.

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