A sounding instrument onboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite NASA launched in October has begun transmitting its first data back to Earth, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Feb. 8.

The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), one of five instruments aboard NPP, was built by Rochester, N.Y.-based ITT Exelis Geospatial Systems to produce high-resolution, three-dimensional temperature, atmospheric pressure and moisture profiles that will be used in NOAA’s weather prediction computer models.

“CrIS is the first U.S. operational hyperspectral sounding instrument and will be one of the most effective instruments for weather forecasting missions today,” Rob Mitrevski, ITT Excelis Geospatial Systems vice president and general manager of integrated geospatial sensing systems and environmental intelligence, said in a press release ITT Exelis issued Jan. 25 declaring CrIS “fully operational.”

Suomi NPP on-orbit testing and commissioning activities are expected to continue until the end of March. Once completed, NOAA will operate NPP and process and distribute its data to users around the world.

“Suomi NPP instrument commissioning is going very well and the team is pleased that the satellite is taking the next step in its mission of providing this critical weather data to NOAA,” Ken Schwer, Suomi NPP project manager, said in a statement.

Equipped with climate and weather sensors, Suomi NPP is designed to serve as a bridge between NOAA’s Polar Operational Environmental Satellite and NASA’s Earth Observing System satellites to the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System that NASA is building on NOAA’s behalf.