CHICAGO (CBS) — NASA is launching a new satellite system designed to significantly increase the accuracy of weather predictions across the globe.
The launch of the first of four state-of-the-art polar orbiters for the Joint Polar Satellite System was scrubbed on Tuesday, and has been rescheduled for Wednesday morning.
Once the full system is in operation, JPSS will give meteorologists key weather information about hurricanes, floods, blizzards, and other extreme conditions.
From the powerful hurricanes that devastated parts of the United States and the Caribbean to the raging wildfires that tore through California’s wine country, the JPSS will help forecasters and emergency managers get ahead of future natural disasters.
We already have GOES-16, a geostationary satellite, which sits 22,000 miles above Earth and keeps track of current weather over the U.S. and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.
The new polar orbiter will be much closer in, 500 miles above earth. It will orbit the Earth as the Earth rotates. It covers the globe twice a day, giving a snapshot of all the weather around the world.
“The United States will have two of the newest generation of technology – geostationary and polar satellites – up at the same time. So that really brings a great capability to the National Weather Service and the nation for protecting lives and property,” said Joe Pica, director of the National Weather Service Office of Operations.
The new polar orbiter will double the amount of data used in numerical weather models. That data will get into the models at twice the speed, increasing the accuracy of 7-day forecasts.