Aviation News

October 28, 2011

Video: NASA Launches New Weather Satellite Aboard Delta II Rocket

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By: Matt Molnar
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A Delta II rocket carrying a climate research and weather forecasting satellite took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California early Friday morning.

The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) lifted off at 2:48am PT (5:48am ET). After a successful separation, the satellite entered orbit 514 miles above the earth.

NASA says the satellite will beam about 8 terabytes of data back to earth every day, made up of:

• Climate change — contribute to long-term records of global environmental data critical for understanding the dynamics of climate change
• Health of the ozone layer — daily measurements of the atmospheric ozone layer that will determine whether the ozone layer is recovering as expected
• Natural disasters — monitor wildfires, volcanic eruptions, snowstorms, droughts, floods, hurricanes and dust plumes
• Weather predictions — a sounding instrument will collect information about cloud cover, atmospheric temperatures, humidity and other variables critical to accurate weather prediction
• Vegetation — map global land vegetation and quantify changes in plant productivity to understand the global carbon cycle and monitor agricultural processes to predict and respond to food shortages and famines
• Global ice cover — monitor changes to Earth’s sea ice, land ice and glaciers to track the pace of climate change
• Air pollution — monitor the spread of health-sapping pollutants such as soot, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide
• Temperatures — maintain a global record of atmospheric, land surface and sea surface temperatures critical to understanding the long-term dynamics of climate change
• Earth’s energy budget — make measurements to determine how much energy is entering and exiting Earth’s atmosphere