NASA and NOAA Wednesday announced a plan to restore a key ozone layer climate sensor to the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program. The Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) Limb will be returned to NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite set to launch in 2009.
The NPOESS partners will give conditional authority to Northrop Grumman Space Technology, Redondo Beach, Calif. to proceed with restoration of the instrument. The effort will be contingent on successful negotiations between the company and the government on the full cost of the effort. Northrop Grumman Space Technology is the mission prime contractor.
The NPOESS is a tri-agency environmental monitoring program directed by the Department of Commerce (NOAA’s parent agency), the Department of Defense and NASA. A recent restructuring of the program had removed the OMPS Limb sensor from the NPP mission.
Restoring the OMPS Limb sensor directly addresses one of the recommendations of the recently released National Research Council’s report “Earth Science Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond.”
With the launch of the first spacecraft planned for 2013, NPOESS will bring improved data and imagery that will allow better weather forecasts, severe-weather monitoring and detection of climate change.
The NPOESS preparatory mission will provide continuity of observations taken by NASA’s Earth Observing System satellites Aqua and Terra. The NPP mission also will provide risk reduction for three of the NPOESS critical sensors, as well as the data processing and ground systems.
NOAA and NASA have agreed to share equally the cost to restore the OMPS Limb to the NPP spacecraft. The OMPS Limb will measure the vertical distribution of ozone and complements existing NPOESS systems. It will give scientists a better understanding of the structure of the atmosphere.
“Having the OMPS Limb will give scientists a more complete picture of the content and distribution of gases in the atmosphere, and whether that distribution is good or bad,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
“NOAA is committed to working with the scientific community to address their climate and other satellite observation requirements. This is a great step in that direction.”
“This sensor will allow us to move forward with the next generation of technology for weather and climate prediction,” NASA Administrator Michael Griffin added.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. NASA is an independent agency whose Earth science research is used to characterize, understand and predict climate.