- Raytheon Participates in the American Meteorological Society's Annual Meeting
- Raytheon Presenter Schedule
- Q&A with Shawn Miller, Chief Architect JPSS CGS, Raytheon
- Q&A with Kerry Grant, JPSS CGS Chief Scientist, Raytheon
- Environment Solutions
- Joint Propulsion Lab (JPL) Data Systems
- JPSS CGS
- Weather Defense Analysis System (WDA)
Last Updated: 01/07/2013*
Did you check the weather before leaving your home today?
While we are accustomed to logging onto the Internet and instantly determining what to pack for our next trip, the same technologies that are used to create the daily weather forecast are also used to make much more critical decisions than what we should wear — including how to prepare for approaching storms such as the recent hard-hitting weather system Superstorm Sandy.
This week, Raytheon is attending the American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting, where we will showcase our latest in satellite weather monitoring technology — the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). VIIRS is in operation today aboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite, the first in a series of Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) spacecraft that will provide critical observations for accurate weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to come.
Raytheon also built the JPSS Common Ground System, which provides full common ground capabilities, from design and development through operations and sustainment, for Suomi NPP, JPSS and several other U.S. and international environmental satellite missions. The Interface Data Processing System, a major component of the ground station, processes and delivers massive volumes of environmental data at 100 times the volume of legacy satellites to weather centrals across the U.S.—providing critical information on cloud coverage, temperature, humidity and more.
From Satellite to the Local Weather Forecast
Polar orbiting and geostationary satellites provide the majority of data for weather forecast models all over the world. These forecast models are used daily to predict short and long term weather patterns.
- Without polar satellites such as Suomi NPP, which provide data where geostationary satellites cannot see — over the poles, for example — these forecasts would be significantly degraded, leading to less reliable forecasts of weather events.
- Operating in 22 different bands, from visible to infrared, VIIRS is now setting new standards for polar-orbiting satellite data, delivering higher resolution and more accurate measurements of weather-related phenomenon than ever before.
VIIRS and Hurricane Sandy
“This technology is not only vital to scientists, but to the public at large,” William Straka, an associate researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin, said. “Without VIIRS, we would be losing an important tool used by forecasters.”
- The average American relies on this technology to make basic decisions on normal days, but when Mother Nature shows her angrier side, as we saw in Superstorm Sandy, we rely on the same technology to inform our best move to safety.
- During Sandy, satellite data enabled meteorologists to forecast and accurately track the path and intensity of the storm, giving local communities up to five days to prepare for its impact. For Sandy, this feat was even more remarkable due to its unusual path and sharp turn west as it merged with a another storm.
- "The better the resolution of the satellite data, the better the inputs to your models are. That can lead to better forecasts, which can save lives and money,” Straka said. “Right now, perhaps without their even knowing it, people everywhere rely on information that comes from weather satellites.”
- In the absence of such satellite data, meteorologists run the risk of underestimating the severity of a storm, or misclassifying a seemingly moderate climate disaster as one of epic proportions.
Until recently, visible imagery of Earth’s weather patterns was largely limited to the daylight hours. Previous night time imagery was low resolution, reducing forecasters’ ability to visually track emerging conditions. VIIRS solves that problem with a highly advanced day-night band (DNB) that provides four times better resolution and 250 times greater dynamic range than previous satellite based low-light imagers.
- NASA’s recent unveiling of a series of “Black Marble” Earth at Night images, taken with the VIIRS day-night band, is a testament to the impact this technology is having on the scientific community.
- “Seeing the Earth at night in the visible channel is something most people have never seen before on a regular basis,” Straka said. In combination with other satellite-based observations, the DNB can give forecasters more confidence in their predictions. This means that civilian and military planners can better prepare for major weather events -- and with much better lead times.
- Using the DNB is not limited to the atmospheric sciences. “It has a variety of other uses too: utility companies, fishery management, environmental monitoring groups and others can use this data for various purposes,” Straka said. “We are just beginning to explore what is possible with the DNB.”
In orbit for just over a year, VIIRS is providing a new way of looking at – and better responding to – our weather.
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