NASA Weather Satellite Given a Shorter Name

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NASA has truncated the name of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project and will now call the next-generation weather- and climate-monitoring satellite the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP).

The satellite launched Oct. 28 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and is slated to operate for at least five years. It was renamed to honor the late Verner Suomi, formerly a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin.

The renaming follows NASA’s Jan. 19 disclosure that contamination on a key NPP sensor, the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite, will delay the start of full spacecraft operations until early March. Suomi NPP was supposed to begin its weather monitoring mission in mid-December.

Suomi NPP was conceived as an instrument test-bed for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, but the White House canceled that program in 2010 and called for separate civil and military polar-orbiting satellite programs.