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Suomi NPP
Suomi NPP satellite.jpg
Suomi NPP satellite
NamesSuomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership
NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP)
Mission typeWeather
OperatorNASA / NOAA / DoD
COSPAR ID2011-061A
SATCAT no.37849
Mission duration5 years (planned)
9 years, 7 months, 11 days (elapsed)
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerBall Aerospace & Technologies
Launch mass2,128 kg (4,691 lb) [1]
Dry mass1,400 kg (3,100 lb)
Payload mass464 kg (1,023 lb)
Dimensions1.3 m x 1.3 m x 4.2 m
Power2000 watts
Start of mission
Launch date28 October 2011,
09:48:01.828 UTC [2]
RocketDelta II 7920-10C
(Delta D357)
Launch siteVandenberg, SLC-2W
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit [3]
RegimeSun-synchronous orbit
Perigee altitude833.7 km (518.0 mi)
Apogee altitude834.3 km (518.4 mi)
Period101.44 minutes
NPOESS Preparatory Project logo.svg

Insignia for the NPOESS Preparatory Project
← NOAA-19
NOAA-20 →

The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership or Suomi NPP, previously known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) and NPP-Bridge, is a weather satellite operated by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was launched in 2011 and continues to operate in May 2021.

Suomi NPP was originally intended as a pathfinder for the NPOESS program, which was to have replaced NOAA's Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) and the U.S. Air Force's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). Suomi NPP was launched in 2011 after the cancellation of NPOESS to serve as a stop-gap between the POES satellites and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) which will replace them. Its instruments provide climate measurements that continue prior observations by NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS).


The satellite is named after Verner E. Suomi, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The name was announced on 24 January 2012, three months after the satellite's launch.[4][5]

The satellite was launched from Space Launch Complex-2W (SLC-2W) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by a United Launch Alliance Delta II 7920-10C on 28 October 2011. The satellite was placed into a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) 833 km (518 mi) above the Earth.[6]


NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) is intended to bridge the gap between old Earth Observing System (EOS) and new systems (JPSS) by flying new instruments, on a new satellite bus, using a new ground data network.[7] Originally planned for launch five years earlier as a joint NASA/NOAA/DoD project, NPP was to be a pathfinder mission for the larger National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) until DoD participation in the larger project was dissolved. The project continued as a civilian weather forecasting replacement for the NOAA Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) series, and ensured continuity of climate measurements begun by the Earth Observing System (EOS) of NASA.[8]


The spacecraft was launched on 28 October 2011 at from Vandenberg Air Force Base via a Delta II in the 7920-10 configuration (Extra Extended Long Tank with RS-27A engine first stage, 9 GEM-40 solid rocket motors, type 2 second stage with Aerojet AJ10 engine, no third stage and a 10-meter fairing).[9][10] Additionally, the rocket deployed five CubeSats as a part of NASA ELaNa III manifest.


Suomi NPP in the cleanroom before launch
Suomi NPP in the cleanroom before launch

The Suomi NPP spacecraft has been built and integrated by BATC (Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation) of Boulder, Colorado (NASA/GSFC contract award in May 2002). The platform design is a variation of BCP 2000 (Ball Commercial Platform) bus of BATC of ICESat and CloudSat heritage. The spacecraft consists of an aluminum honeycomb structure.

The ADCS (Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem) provides 3-axis stabilization using 4 reaction wheels for fine attitude control, 3 torque bars for momentum unloading, thrusters for coarse attitude control (such as during large-angle slews for orbital maintenance), 2 star trackers for fine attitude determination, 3 gyroscopes for attitude and attitude rate determination between star tracker updates, 2 Earth sensors for safe-mode attitude control, and coarse Sun sensors for initial attitude acquisition, all monitored and controlled by the spacecraft controls a computer. ADCS provides real-time attitude knowledge of 10 arcsec (1 sigma) at the spacecraft navigation reference base, real-time spacecraft position knowledge of 25 m (1 sigma), and attitude control of 36 arcsec (1 sigma).

The EPS (Electrical Power Subsystem) uses Gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cells to generate an average power of about 2 kW (EOL). The solar array rotates once per orbit to maintain a nominally normal orientation to the Sun. In addition, a single-wing solar array is mounted on the anti-solar side of the spacecraft; its function is to preclude thermal input into the sensitive cryo radiators of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) instruments. A regulated 28 ±6 VDC power bus distributes energy to all spacecraft subsystems and instruments. A nickel–hydrogen battery (NIH) system provides power for eclipse phase operations.

The spacecraft has an on-orbit design lifetime of 5 years (available consumables for 7 years). The spacecraft dry mass is about 1400 kg. NPP is designed to support controlled reentry at the end of its mission life (via propulsive maneuvers to lower the orbit perigee to approximately 50 km and target any surviving debris for open ocean entry). NPP is expected to have sufficient debris that survives reentry so as to require controlled reentry to place the debris in a pre-determined location in the ocean.


The Suomi NPP is the first in a new generation of satellites intended to replace the Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites, which were launched from 1997 to 2009. The satellite orbits the Earth about 14 times each day. Its five imaging systems include:

Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) is the largest instrument aboard of Suomi-NPP (National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project). It collects radiometric imagery in visible and infrared wavelengths of the land, atmosphere, ice, and ocean. It will survey broad swaths of the land, oceans, and air, enabling scientists to monitor everything from phytoplankton and other organisms in the sea, vegetation and forest cover, and the amount of sea ice at the poles. Data from VIIRS, collected from 22 channels across the electromagnetic spectrum, will also be used to observe active fires, ocean color, sea surface temperature, and other surface features.[11]

Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS)

The Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) measures the ozone layer in our upper atmosphere tracking the status of global ozone distributions, including the ozone hole. It also monitors ozone levels in the troposphere. OMPS extends out 40-year long record ozone layer measurements while also providing improved vertical resolution compared to previous operational instruments. Closer to the ground, OMPS's measurements of harmful ozone improve air quality monitoring and when combined with cloud predictions; help to create the Ultraviolet index. OMPS has two sensors, both new designs, composed of three advanced hyperspectral imaging spectrometers.[12]

Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES)

The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) will be used to study the Earth's radiation budget. Monitoring the amount of energy emitted and reflected by the planet, it measures both solar energy reflected by the Earth and heat emitted by our planet. This solar and thermal energy are key parts of the Earth's radiation budget. CERES instrument continues a multi-year record of the amount of energy entering and exiting from the top of the atmosphere of Earth. It will provide scientists with needed long-term, stable data sets to make accurate projections of global climate change.[13]

Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS)

The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) has 1305 spectral channels and will produce high-resolution, three-dimensional temperature, pressure, and moisture profiles. It measures continuous channels in the infrared region and has the ability to measure temperature profiles with improved accuracy over its predecessors. These profiles will be used to enhance weather forecasting models and will facilitate both short- and long-term weather forecasting. Over longer timescales, they will help improve understanding of climate phenomena.[14]

Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS)

The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMs), works in conjunction with the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) to make detailed vertical profiles of atmospheric pressure, heat, and moisture. ATMs, a cross-track scanner with 22 channels, provides sounding observations needed to retrieve profiles of atmospheric temperature and moisture for civilian operational weather forecasting as well as continuity of these measurements for climate monitoring purposes. Chris will operate at infrared wavelengths, while ATMs will operate at much shorter, microwave, wavelengths.[15]


Blue Marble 2012, created from Suomi NPP composite imagery
Blue Marble 2012, created from Suomi NPP composite imagery

The VIIRS sensor onboard the spacecraft acquired its first measurements of Earth on 21 November 2011.[16]

NASA also released a high resolution blue marble image of the Earth showing most of North America, which was created by NASA oceanographer Norman Kuring using data obtained on 4 January 2012 by the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), one of five imaging systems aboard the satellite. That date was chosen because it was a fairly sunny day in most of North America.[6]

As of 22 November 2020, beyond the initial 5-year mission, the spacecraft continues to operate.[17]


Earth, created from Suomi NPP composite imagery.
Earth at night, created from Suomi NPP composite imagery.


  1. ^ "NPP Press Kit". NASA. Retrieved 6 January 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ @NASAKennedy. "#NPP's official liftoff time was 02:48:01.828 PDT". Twitter. Retrieved 17 August 2013. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ "NPP Satellite details 2011-061A NORAD 37849". N2YO. 25 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  4. ^ Gran, Rani; Steve Cole (25 January 2012). "NASA Renames Earth-Observing Mission in Honor of Satellite Pioneer". Suomi NPP. NASA. Retrieved 29 January 2012. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Herzog, Karen (26 January 2012). "Satellite renamed to honor UW's Suomi". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  6. ^ a b Netburn, Deborah (26 January 2012). "The making of NASA's super hi-res blue marble Earth image". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  7. ^ "NPP Mission". NASA. Retrieved 15 August 2011. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ History of the Delta Launch Vehicle: Description and Designations
  10. ^ "NPP weather and climate satellite launches". BBC News. 28 October 2011.
  11. ^ "VIRSS 2011-061A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  12. ^ "OMPS 2011-061A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  13. ^ "CERES 2011-061A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. ^ "CrIS 2011-061A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  15. ^ "ATMS 2011-061A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  16. ^ VIIRS First Light This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  17. ^ "SNPP Operational Status". NOAA. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 June 2021, at 19:00
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