NASA Transfers Control of NPP Satellite to NOAA

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WASHINGTON — NASA transferred operational control of the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) weather and climate satellite to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Feb. 22, the U.S. space agency said March 4 in a press release.

Suomi NPP, which launched Oct. 28, 2011, carries many of the same instruments as the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) that NASA is building for NOAA. The first JPSS satellite is slated for launch in 2017, NASA said in its press release.

Suomi NPP was pressed into service as an operational satellite after the tri-agency, civil-military National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System project was canceled by the White House in 2010 due to cost overruns and programmatic dysfunction.

Instruments NPP is carrying include the Visible/Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite; the Cross-track Infrared Sounder; the Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System; the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder; and the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite.

NASA managed construction of the $1.5 billion NPP satellite for NOAA. The space agency operated the satellite after its arrival on orbit, tending to instrument calibration and troubleshooting before turning it over to NOAA for routine operations.

Notable among the troubleshooting efforts was a problem with the Visible/Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, built by Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems of El Segundo, Calif. Last January, NASA concluded that contamination during the manufacturing process caused a larger-than-expected decrease in sensor sensitivity in four of the instrument’s near-infrared and visible channels.

Despite the problem, NASA said NPP would be able to fulfill its scheduled five-year mission.