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A Brand Spanking New Satellite for Earth Observation


Last Friday, October 28, NASA successfully launched the much anticipated National Preparatory Project (NPP).  NPP is a sort of renaissance satellite, with 5 sensors expected to provide many types of data to many types of users.  Perhaps the most important of its roles will be taking over for more elderly weather satellites, which are critical for hurricane forecasting, among other important jobs.

Here at Exelis VIS we are most excited about the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor aboard NPP.  The VIIRS is designed to continue the record collected over the past decades by sensors such as AVHRR, SeaWiFS and MODIS.  Making sure that this record remains continuous is critical for helping us understand current climate and other environmental patterns, and predicting future patterns.

VIIRS is more than a continuation of past sensors, though.  It will improve the spatial resolution of AVHRR and MODIS data, providing data at two resolution modes:  the Imagery mode will collect data with 370 m pixels at nadir, and the Moderate mode will collect data with 740 m pixels at nadir.  VIIRS is also designed to be less noisy than MODIS data.  The bowtie effect, which results in pixels along the edges of the image covering more distance on the ground than pixels in the center, is also significantly reduced in VIIRS.

Altogether, we expect data from VIIRS to be a welcome improvement to the current suite of earth observations.  We hear that we may expect to start seeing VIIRS data within three months, as NOAA checks out the NPP satellite and instruments.

Are you planning to work with NPP data?


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