REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Nov. 9, 2011 -- A key Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)-built instrument launched Oct. 28 at 2:48 a.m. (PDT) on the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft.
The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument Flight Model 5 continues the legacy of Northrop Grumman-built broadband radiometers which measure the amount of sunlight reflected from the Earth and atmosphere as well as the thermal energy emitted by the Earth and its atmosphere.
This allows scientists to collect the data to monitor the temperature of the planet and validate models that calculate the effect of clouds in driving planetary heating or cooling. Science teams around the world use CERES data to understand the Earth's radiation budget which helps compute global temperature changes over the long term. These temperature changes can be enough to increase or shrink arable lands, lengthen growing seasons and enlarge cold zones or deserts.
"The successful launch of CERES marks the beginning of a five-year journey that will help scientists the world over monitor the Earth's changing weather and climate," said Mark Folkman, director, sensor products, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "We're proud to be enabling this important NASA mission."
The NPP satellite was launched onboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II-7920-10 launch vehicle. NPP launched from the Western Range at Vandenberg Air Force Base from SLC-2, Calif., into an 824 km circular, sun-synchronous polar orbit.
CERES Flight Model 5 will carry forward the long-term Earth radiation budget measurements for the next several years. The CERES Flight Model 6 instrument, currently in final assembly, will be launched on the first of the next-generation of operational polar-orbiting environmental satellites called the Joint Polar Satellite System.
Northrop Grumman is also supporting NPP satellite activation and operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md., and has managed the remaining three NPP instruments: the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) and the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) from 2002 through delivery to the satellite.
In addition the company has performed NPP system engineering (under NPOESS), and managed the development of the NPP ground system (both command and control, and mission data processing from inception through delivery and integration). Northrop Grumman leads the development of the mission algorithms and science software for four of the five instruments (VIIRS, CrIS, ATMS and OMPS) and supports the calibration/validation of these instruments from pre- to post-launch.
The NPP spacecraft will directly transmit stored mission sensor data to a receiving station in Svalbard, Norway, and will also provide continuous direct broadcast of real-time sensor data. The mission data will be routed on communications networks from Svalbard to the continental United States.
Data from NPP supplied by CERES and the other on-board instruments will be used to address an array of research questions. Meteorologists will incorporate the data into their weather and climate prediction models to produce accurate, life-saving forecasts and warnings. NPP data will also help emergency responders monitor and react to natural disasters.
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