AZUSA, Calif., Oct. 31, 2011 -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) marks a key milestone in weather forecasting with the launch of the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) on the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) mission, providing weather forecasters with improved information on the distribution of moisture and temperature in the atmosphere.

The ATMS was integrated onto the NPP spacecraft in 2006 and launched on Oct. 28. As the newest-generation microwave sensor, ATMS will provide atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles similar to the current-generation sensor, the Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit, but with improved spatial resolution, sampling rate, increased earth surface coverage and additional channels spanning the frequency band from 23.8 GHz to 183.3 GHz.

"For more than 35 years Northrop Grumman has built microwave sensors for aiding weather forecasters with their predictions," said Dr. Steve Toner, vice president of Northrop Grumman's overhead persistent infrared and Azusa programs business unit. "ATMS represents the next generation of civil space instruments and will be flying on operational weather satellites for many years to come."

"Northrop Grumman looks forward to a successful checkout of the instrument on orbit and then delivering the operational weather data necessary to support weather forecaster needs," Toner said.

"After having ATMS on the spacecraft for five years, we are anxious to receive the first on-orbit data and evaluate our instrument's performance," said Steve Opel, Northrop Grumman program manager for civil space programs at Azusa. "This data is essential as we build and test future units for the operational satellite constellations. The all-weather capability of ATMS will help agencies improve their forecasting abilities."

NPP is the bridge between the Earth Observing System satellites and the forthcoming series of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellites. ATMS is the established microwave sensor for JPSS, which is the next-generational civil operational weather satellite system.

ATMS provides sounding observations necessary to retrieve atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles for civilian operational weather forecasting, as well as continuity of these measurements for climate monitoring. In addition to temperature and moisture profiles, some of ATMS derived products include integrated water vapor content, cloud liquid water content, precipitation rate, snow cover and sea ice concentration.

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