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Joint Polar Satellite System


Joint Polar Satellite System

Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the latest generation of U.S. polar-orbiting, non-geosynchronous, environmental satellites. JPSS will provide the global environmental data used in numerical weather prediction models for forecasts, and scientific data used for climate monitoring. JPSS will aid in fulfilling the mission of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the Department of Commerce. Data and imagery obtained from the JPSS will increase timeliness and accuracy of public warnings and forecasts of climate and weather events, thus reducing the potential loss of human life and property and advancing the national economy. The JPSS is developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who is responsible for operation of JPSS. Two satellites are planned for the JPSS constellation of satellites. JPSS satellites will be flown and the scientific data from JPSS will be processed by the JPSS - Common Ground System (JPSS-CGS).

Artist Illustration of the NPP Satellite


  • History 1
  • Purpose 2
  • Technical specifications 3
  • NPP launch 4
  • Major contractors 5
    • Ball Aerospace 5.1
    • Raytheon Company 5.2
    • Exelis 5.3
    • Northrop Grumman 5.4
  • Program Review 6
  • References 7
    • Further reading 7.1
  • External links 8


JPSS was created by the White House in February 2010 [1] following the restructuring dissolution of the National Polar-orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program. The original satellite orbit concept from the NPOESS program was divided between two sponsor agencies: NOAA was given responsibility for the afternoon orbit, while environmental measurements from morning orbit will be obtained from the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS).


Information about our planet helps the nation plan, predict, respond, and protect lives and property. The United States government recognizes that the nation’s system of polar-orbiting environmental satellites are necessary for supporting climate research and operational weather and storm forecasting for civil, military and international partners.

JPSS will continue to address NOAA’s requirements to provide global environmental data used in numerical weather prediction models for forecasts, as well as provide space weather observations, and direct read-out and data collection products and services to users and customers. Data imagery obtained from the Joint Polar Satellite System will increase timeliness and accuracy of public warnings and forecasts of climate and weather events, thus reducing the potential loss of human life and property and advancing the national economy.

JPSS will replace the current Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES), managed by NOAA and the ground processing component of both POES and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). Operational environmental requirements from polar-orbit are also met by the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP), which launched October 28, 2011.

Data from the JPSS system shall be made freely available, by the United States Government, to domestic and international users, in support of U.S. commitments for the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS).

Ball Aerospace performing integration and performance testing

Technical specifications

The JPSS satellites will carry a suite of sensors designed to collect meteorological, oceanographic, climatological, and solar-geophysical observations of the earth land, oceans, atmosphere, and near-earth space.

The JPSS Common Ground System (CGS) converges the NOAA-NASA civil polar environmental satellite program, NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP), and the Air Force’s Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS) ground systems into a single, common system that will satisfy both U.S. and partner international environmental monitoring satellite needs from polar orbit.

The JPSS-1 spacecraft is based upon the design of the NPP satellite, with a different communications design for downlinking the raw, unprocessed data back to Earth.

PSS Sensors/Instruments:

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)
takes global visible and infrared observations of land, ocean, and atmosphere parameters at high temporal resolution.
The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS)
will produce high-resolution, three-dimensional temperature, pressure, and moisture profiles. These profiles will be used to enhance weather forecasting models, and will facilitate both short- and long-term weather forecasting. Over longer timescales, they will help improve understanding of climate phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña.
The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS)
a cross-track scanner with 22 channels, provides sounding observations needed to retrieve profiles of atmospheric temperature and moisture for civilian operational weather forecasting as well as continuity of these measurements for climate monitoring purposes.
Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite (OMPS)
an advanced suite of three hyperspectral instruments, extends the 25-plus year total-ozone and ozone-profile records. These records are used by ozone-assessment researchers and policy makers to track the health of the ozone layer. The improved vertical resolution of OMPS data products allows for better testing and monitoring of the complex chemistry involved in ozone destruction near the troposphere. OMPS products, when combined with cloud predictions, also help produce better ultraviolet index forecasts.
Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES)
senses both solar-reflected and Earth-emitted radiation from the top of the atmosphere to the Earth's surface. Cloud properties are determined using simultaneous measurements by other JPSS instruments such as the VIIRS and will lead to a better understanding of the role of clouds and the energy cycle in global climate change.

The ground communications and processing system for JPSS is known as the JPSS Common Ground System (JPSS CGS), and consists of a Command, Control, and Communications Segment (C3S) and the Interface Data Processing Segment (IDPS). Both are developed by Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS). The IDPS will process JPSS satellite data to provide environmental data products (aka, Environmental Data Records or EDRs) to NOAA and DoD processing centers operated by the United States government. The IDPS will process EDRs beginning with the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP), slated to launch in October 2011 and continue through the lifetime of the JPSS and DWSS systems.

The C3S is responsible for managing the overall JPSS (and potentially DWSS) missions from control and status of the space and ground assets to ensuring delivery of timely, high-quality data from the Space Segments (SS) to IDPS for processing. In addition, the C3S provides the globally distributed ground assets necessary to collect and transport mission, telemetry, and command data between the satellites and the processing locations.

NPP launch

The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP), originally proposed as a proof-of-concept satellite, will now support NOAA and DoD operations. NPP was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on 28 October 2011 at 09:48 GMT.[2] It will be the first in-flight use of the JPSS ground system and key sensors to be subsequently flown on the JPSS satellites and serve as both a risk-reduction and early-flight opportunity for the JPSS program.

The first Joint Polar Satellite System satellite - JPSS 1 will be launched in November 2016 aboard a Delta II rocket.[3]

Major contractors

Ball Aerospace

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (BATC) of Boulder, CO is the spacecraft contractor for both the JPSS-1 satellite and the Ozone instrument (OMPS) on the JPSS program and NPP.

Raytheon Company

Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS) of Aurora, CO is the prime contractor for the JPSS Common Ground System (CGS), whose major components necessary for operation of the NPP spacecraft have been delivered. Interface Data Processing Systems (IDPS) have been installed at two U.S. government processing facilities, known as weather centrals.

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (SAS) of El Segundo, CA is the developer and builder for the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) for the NPP, JPSS and DWSS programs.


Exelis Inc. of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is the developer and builder for the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) instrument planned for flight on the first and second Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1 and JPSS-2).

Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems(NGES), of Azusa, CA is the developer and builder for the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS), a legacy instrument previously flown on the mission.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems(NGAS) [1] of Redondo Beach, CA is the developer and builder for the Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES), a legacy instrument previously flown on the NASA Earth Observation System (EOS) satellites.

Program Review

An independent review team (IRT) was assigned to evaluate and to understand the causes for delays in the program.[4]


  1. ^ "Restructuring the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System". NOAA. February 1, 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-12-07. 
  2. ^ Amos, Jonathan (28 October 2011). "NPP weather and climate satellite launches". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  3. ^ Ray, Justin. "NASA gives the Delta 2 rocket a new lease on life". SpaceFlightNow. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "NOAA NESDIS Independent Review Team Report". July 1, 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-12-09. 

Further reading


External links

  • Raytheon Company: Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)
  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: NPOESS Preparatory Project
  • NASA NPP and the Earth System (link to youTube video)
  • Chief Engineer Rob Baltrum talks about the capabilities of the NPOESS spacecraft (youTube video)
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