New NOAA Polar Orbiting Satellite
September 25, 2000
A new NOAA environmental satellite (NOAA 16) was successfully launched Thursday September 21, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on board a Titan 2 rocket. Though it appears ungainly, it's a smooth, steady flyer in orbit (the above drawing is an artist's conception of how it'll appear in space). This satellite should help improve weather forecasting and be able to monitor environmental phenomena around the globe. Data will be collected on clouds, snow cover, ice, vegetation, and aerosols, for example, and will be transmitted to users world-wide. It'll travel around the Earth in a polar orbit (about 470 miles above the Earth's surface) and will image nearly every spot on the globe twice each day. For imaging purposes, it operates in both the visible and infrared wavelengths. Temperature and moisture profiles will also be acquired as will ultraviolet measurements (for ozone detection). This newest spaceborne platform will form one of a pair of operational satellites that'll ensure environmental data, from any region of the Earth, is no more than six hours old.