The Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)
onboard NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite, NPP, acquired its first
measurements on Nov. 21, 2011. This high-resolution image is of a broad swath of Eastern North America from Canada's Hudson
Bay past Florida to the northern coast of Venezuela. The VIIRS data were processed at the NOAA Satellite
Operations Facility (NSOF) in Suitland, Md.
VIIRS is one of five instruments onboard the National Polar-orbiting Operational
Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite that
launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Oct. 28. Since then, NPP
reached its final orbit at an altitude of 512 miles (824 kilometres), powered
on all instruments and is travelling around the Earth at 16,640 miles an hour
(eight kilometres per second).
NPP project scientist
NASA's Goddard Space Flight
"This image is a next
step forward in the success of VIIRS and the NPP mission.”
VIIRS will collect radiometric imagery in visible and
infrared wavelengths of the Earth's land, atmosphere, and oceans. By far the
largest instrument onboard NPP, VIIRS weighs about 556 pounds (252 kilograms).
Its data, collected from 22 channels across the electromagnetic spectrum, will
be used to observe the Earth's surface including fires, ice, ocean color,
vegetation, clouds, and land and sea surface temperatures.
NPP Program Scientist
"VIIRS heralds a
brightening future for continuing these essential measurements of our
environment and climate. All of NPP's five instruments will be up and running
by mid-December and NPP will begin 2012 by sending down complete data.”
"NPP is right on track to
ring in the New Year. Along with VIIRS, NPP carries four more instruments that
monitor the environment on Earth and the planet's climate, providing crucial
information on long-term patterns to assess climate change and data used by
meteorologists to improve short-term weather forecasting."
NPP Project Manager
NPP serves as a bridge mission from NASA's Earth
Observing System (EOS) of satellites to the next-generation Joint Polar
Satellite System (JPSS), a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) program that will also collect weather and climate data. NASA Goddard
manages the NPP mission for the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission
Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The JPSS program provides the NPP ground system and
NOAA provides operational support.
During NPP's five-year life, the mission will extend
more than 30 key long-term datasets that include measurements of the
atmosphere, land and oceans. NASA has been tracking many of these properties
for decades. NPP will continue measurements of land surface vegetation, sea
surface temperature, and atmospheric ozone that began more than 25 years ago.
Professor of Geography
University of Maryland
"The task now for the
science community is to evaluate VIIRS performance and determine the accuracy of
its data products. These long-term data records are critical in monitoring how
the Earth's surface is changing - either from human activity or through climate