NOAA and NASA announced a plan to restore a key climate sensor, designed to give climate researchers a more precise depiction of the structure of the Earth's ozone layer, to the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project. The sensor, called the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite Limb, will be returned to the NPP satellite, set to launch in 2009.
The NPOESS Integrated Program Office will give Northrop Grumman Space Technology, the NPOESS prime contractor, conditional authority to proceed with the effort, with final approval contingent upon successful negotiations between the contractor and the IPO of the full cost proposal.
"Having the OMPS Limb will give scientists a more complete picture of the content and distribution of gases in the atmosphere," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "NOAA is committed to working with the scientific community to address their climate and other satellite observation requirements. This is a great step in that direction."
NPOESS is a tri-agency environmental monitoring program directed by the Department of Commerce (NOAA's parent agency), the Department of Defense and NASA. With the launch of the first spacecraft planned for 2013, NPOESS will bring improved data and imagery that will allow better weather forecasts, severe-weather monitoring and detection of climate change. A recent restructuring of the NPOESS program had removed the OMPS Limb sensor from NPP.
The NPP mission will provide continuity of observations that were begun by NASA's Earth Observing System satellites Aqua and Terra. NPP also will provide risk reduction for three of the NPOESS critical sensors, as well as the data processing and ground systems.
NOAA and NASA have agreed to split equally the cost to restore the OMPS Limb onto the NPP spacecraft. The OMPS Limb, which measures the vertical distribution of ozone, complements existing NPOESS systems and will give scientists a better understanding of the structure of the atmosphere. Restoring the OMPS Limb sensor directly addresses one of the recommendations of the recently released National Research Council's "Earth Science Applications from Space: National Imperative for the Next Decade and Beyond."
"This sensor will allow us to move forward with the next generation of technology for weather and climate prediction," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.
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