NASA Launches a Powerful Weather Satellite for Tracking Storms

Saturday, 18 November 2017 - 5:35PM
Technology
Earth
NASA
Saturday, 18 November 2017 - 5:35PM
NASA Launches a Powerful Weather Satellite for Tracking Storms
NASA
You've probably heard tons of jokes about how weather forecasts are always wrong, so we'll leave it to you to pick your favorite. Either way, a new satellite from NASA might make those jokes a thing of the past.

In a joint venture between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a new satellite called JPSS-1 was just launched from the surface of California into orbit, with the goal of more accurately tracking weather patterns around the world, and making better predictions further in advance than before. And this applies to everything from rain clouds to hurricanes.

According to a NASA press release, JPSS-1 is a highly advanced polar-orbiting satellite, which will take an important role among other weather satellites which track "atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, and fire detection." Some of those may sound more important than others, but everything counts when predicting something as difficult as the weather.



Even though it was just launched, JPSS-1 isn't going to be a fully operational weather station for another few months, at least. It hasn't reached its final orbit yet, and will be renamed NOAA-20 once it does. And even after that, it has three months of testing to look forward to.

But once everyone's sure that the satellite is working properly, it'll become a powerful and invaluable tool in tracking dangerous weather like tropical storms and hurricanes. All of its instruments are more advanced than any of NOAA's previous weather satellites, and all of the data it records will be available while tracking and predicting hurricane paths, as well as examining climate patterns like El Niño and La Niña.

Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, talked about how important JPSS-1 should be during storm tracking procedures.

Opening quote
"Emergency managers increasingly rely on our forecasts to make critical decisions and take appropriate action before a storm hits. Polar satellite observations not only help us monitor and collect information about current weather systems, but they provide data to feed into our weather forecast models."
Closing quote


Since we're not at the point where we can actually control the weather like Gerard Butler in the recently panned Geostorm, more accurately tracking weather is the most we can look forward to right now.

And since even that feels like it's only partially in our grasp sometimes, it's good that our storm tracking capabilities are stepping up with the rest of our scientific advancements. We'll probably need them.

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