The Commerce
National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration
announced that the environmental
satellite NOAA-16, featuring improved imaging and sounding capabilities,
replaced NOAA-14 on March 20.

NOAA-16, which successfully completed engineering
and instrument calibration, is a Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental
Satellite, POES.
NOAA-16 is the second in a
series of five POES satellites that will operate over the next
10 years. Launched September 21, 2000, NOAA-16 replaces NOAA-14
which was launched in December
1994. As other NOAA Satellites, NOAA-16 collects meteorological
data and transmits the information to users around the world
to enhance weather and climate forecasting. In the United States,
the data are used primarily by NOAA’s National
Weather Service
for its three to 10- day weather forecasts
and 30- to 90- day climate outlooks.

"With NOAA-16, we will get better
measurements of atmospheric temperature and moisture values,"
said Mike Mignogno, NOAA’s POES program manager. "These
translate into better information, particularly in the troposphere,
five to ten miles above the earth’s surface. The result will
be accurate, global, tropospheric temperature and moisture data
under all sky conditions."

The POES satellites orbit the Earth from
pole to pole, providing images of cloud cover, vertical temperature
and humidity profiles, surface parameters such as sea surface
temperature, snow, ice, and vegetation, and space environment
parameters. The satellite also carries search and rescue instruments
that are used internationally in locating ships and aircraft
in distress. The use of satellites in search and rescue has been
instrumental in saving more than 11,000 lives since the inception
of the Search and Rescue Satellite-aided Tracking, or SARSAT,
system in 1982.

The satellites are operated by NOAA’s
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

in Suitland, Md. NOAA operates two polar-orbiting and two geostationary
environmental satellites. Currently, NOAA-15 and NOAA-16 are
the two polar-orbiting satellites; and GOES-8
and -10
are the two geostationary satellites. NOAA also operates
satellites in the Defense
Meteorological Satellite Program

work together to develop and launch NOAA’s environmental satellites.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight
in Greenbelt, Md., is responsible for the construction,
integration, and verification testing of the satellite, instruments,
and ground equipment. NASA also arranges launch of the satellites
with the U.S. Air Force.

Information on the polar satellites is
available on the World Wide Web at: