Last Updated: 02/04/2014*

Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Blizzards. This definitely wasn't your typical science fair.

Atlanta youngsters received a close-up look at Mother Nature's worst at WeatherFest 2014, and Raytheon was right there in the eye of the action.

The fair, part of the American Meteorological Society’s annual tradeshow, featured Raytheon employees demonstrating many of the technologies that help produce weather reports, from sensors in space to high-speed computer networks.

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A Raytheon volunteer helps children build "sensors" out of PVC parts and a polarizing filter. This activity highlighted how remote sensing techniques help us observe weather and climate changes in the Earth's atmosphere.

“Weather is important to the global economy and affects every aspect of our lives,” said Brad Scalio, a principal systems engineer for Raytheon. “We want to encourage the next generation to explore careers in weather forecasting.”

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration recently named Raytheon a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador for its pioneering work in helping prepare the United States for extreme weather.

The Feb. 2 Weatherfest drew thousands of children. Raytheon volunteers showed how to build their own sensors as part of its effort to expand their knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In addition, Raytheon engineers talked with the children on topics including:

  • A day in the life of a weather forecaster;
  • Viewing Earth from space;
  • Discovering change in our environments.

The event was open to the public and geared toward K-12 students.  It featured about 70 interactive science exhibits, including hands-on experiments, educational information, career guides and more.

Raytheon supports every part of the chain that leads to weather forecasts. Key Raytheon tools include:

VIIRS: The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), a package of sensors aboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. The sensors will also go on future next-generation weather satellites.

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Kids created their own weather maps, then forecast the weather.

Suomi NPP is a bridge mission between the current polar weather satellite system and the Joint Polar Satellite System. VIIRS represents the latest in a series of progressively capable technologies that meteorologists use to increase the accuracy of their weather forecasting.

JPSS: The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the latest generation of U.S. polar-orbiting satellites designed to monitor global environmental conditions. The satellites collect and disseminate data related to weather, atmosphere, oceans, land and near-space environments.

JPSS Common Ground System antennas and command centers receive and route the data via fiber optic links to U.S. weather processing centers.

AWIPS: The Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) is used by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to analyze and disseminate weather data, including time-sensitive, high-impact warnings.

Since 2005, Raytheon has been NOAA’s partner for the operations, maintenance and evolution of AWIPS, providing integrated mission services to sustain and enhance the system.

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From areas of high pressure to stationary fronts, Raytheon volunteers shared what symbols mean on a weather map.

“AWIPS plays a critical role in the ability of U.S. forecasters to make weather predictions that can save lives and safeguard property,” Scalio said. 

He noted that Raytheon is currently testing the system’s next-generation software.

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