The nation’s newest polar-orbiting environmental
satellite, NOAA-16, has successfully completed a comprehensive,
on-orbit verification by NASA’s
Goddard Space Flight Center
in Greenbelt, Md. The satellite,
launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
was turned over to NOAA today.

After NOAA checks out the data processing
systems, the satellite will be placed into operations. This is
expected to take place in early January.

NOAA-16, launched from Vandenberg
Air Force Base
, Calif., on Sept. 21, will improve weather
forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world.
It is the second in a series of five polar-orbiting satellites
with improved imaging and sounding capabilities that will operate
over the next ten years.

"The NOAA-16 satellite is working
beautifully," said Harry McCain, NASA’s project manager
for the Polar-orbiting Operational
Environmental Satellite program

"We’re extremely pleased with the
success of the verification process, and look forward to a successful
mission for NOAA-16," said Mike Mignogno, NOAA’s polar-orbiting
operational environmental satellite manager.

"This success is due to the professionalism
of a large team of NASA, NOAA
and contractor personnel," McCain added. "Our primary
contractors are Lockheed Martin, ITT, Aerojet, Ball Aerospace,
Panametrics and L3 Communications. We also have international
partners from the U.K., France and Canada. All are to be congratulated
for their significant contributions in achieving our joint goal
of success for the NOAA-16 mission."

NASA engineers performed a series of over
300 on-orbit verification tests since the launch to establish
a satellite performance baseline designed to characterize all
aspects of instrument and spacecraft operation. The resulting
information provides NOAA with a database to support product
development and performance monitoring during the operational
phase of the mission. This same data provides NASA with valuable
insight into overall spacecraft subsystem and instrument interaction,
so that enhancements and/or ground test modifications may be
applied, if appropriate, to the follow on satellites, NOAA-M,
N, and N Prime.

"All the instruments, including the
Advanced Microwave Sounding Units suite of instruments, are working
well," McCain said. The sounding instruments will provide
critical information for weather forecasting and climate modeling.

The direct broadcast of Advanced Very High
Resolution Radiometer instrument data is providing imagery to
scientific, commercial and educational groups throughout the
world. Once NOAA-16 is fully operational, the search and rescue
instruments will continue to support a global community that
has established ground stations that "listen" for distress
beacons relayed through the NOAA polar and Russian Cospas satellites.

For about 40 years, NASA and NOAA have
worked jointly to perfect, develop and continue the polar-orbiting
program. Goddard engineers are responsible for the construction,
integration, launch and verification testing of the spacecraft,
instruments and unique ground equipment.

NOAA is responsible for program funding
and the on-orbit operation of the multi-satellite system. NOAA
also determines the need for satellite replacement. NOAA designs,
develops, installs and integrates the ground system needed to
acquire, process and disseminate the data from the sensors on
the satellites.