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NASA renames Earth-observing mission in honor of satellite pioneer

Date:
January 25, 2012
Source:
NASA
Summary:
NASA has renamed its newest Earth-observing satellite in honor of the late Verner E. Suomi, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin who is recognized widely as "the father of satellite meteorology." NASA launched the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project, or NPP, on Oct. 28, 2011, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NPP was renamed Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or Suomi NPP. The satellite is the first designed to collect critical data to improve short-term weather forecasts and increase understanding of long-term climate change.

'Blue Marble' image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite -- Suomi NPP. The composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed 'Suomi NPP' on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin. Suomi NPP is NASA's next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth. Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS.
Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

NASA has renamed its newest Earth-observing satellite in honor of the late Verner E. Suomi, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin who is recognized widely as "the father of satellite meteorology." The announcement was made Jan. 24 at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans.

NASA launched the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project, or NPP, on Oct. 28, 2011, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NPP was renamed Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or Suomi NPP. The satellite is the first designed to collect critical data to improve short-term weather forecasts and increase understanding of long-term climate change.

"Verner Suomi's many scientific and engineering contributions were fundamental to our current ability to learn about Earth's weather and climate from space," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington." Suomi NPP not only will extend more than four decades of NASA satellite observations of our planet, it also will usher in a new era of climate change discovery and weather forecasting."

The Suomi NPP mission is a bridge between NASA's Earth Observing System satellites to the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System, or JPSS, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program. JPSS is the civilian component of the former National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), which was reorganized by the Obama Administration in 2010.

"The new name now accurately describes the mission," said Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "Suomi NPP will advance our scientific knowledge of Earth and improve the lives of Americans by enabling more accurate forecasts of weather, ocean conditions and the terrestrial biosphere. The mission is the product of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, the Department of Defense, the private sector and academic researchers."

Verner Suomi pioneered remote sensing of Earth from satellites in polar orbits a few hundred miles above the surface with Explorer 7 in 1959, and geostationary orbits thousands of miles high with ATS-1 in 1966. He was best known for his invention of the "spin-scan" camera which enabled geostationary weather satellites to continuously image Earth, yielding the satellite pictures commonly used on television weather broadcasts. He also was involved in planning interplanetary spacecraft missions to Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Suomi spent nearly his entire career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where in 1965 he founded the university's Space Science and Engineering Center with funding from NASA. The center is known for Earth-observing satellite research and development. In 1964, Suomi served as chief scientist of the U.S. Weather Bureau for one year. He received the National Medal of Science in 1977. He died in 1995 at the age of 79.

"It is fitting that such an important and innovative partnership pays tribute to a pioneer like Verner Suomi," said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. "Suomi NPP is an extremely important mission for NOAA. Its advanced instruments will improve our weather forecasts and understanding of the climate and pave the way for JPSS, our next generation of weather satellites."

Suomi NPP currently is in its initial checkout phase before starting regular observations with all of its five instruments. Commissioning activities are expected to be completed by March. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the Suomi NPP mission for the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The JPSS program provides the satellite ground system and NOAA provides operational support.

For more information about Verner Suomi's career, visit: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Suomi/

For more information about the Suomi NPP mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/npp


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "NASA renames Earth-observing mission in honor of satellite pioneer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125093918.htm>.
NASA. (2012, January 25). NASA renames Earth-observing mission in honor of satellite pioneer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125093918.htm
NASA. "NASA renames Earth-observing mission in honor of satellite pioneer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125093918.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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