[JPSS-1 liftoff from Saturday]
Traditionally, when NOAA’s polar-orbiting satellites were planned, designed and built, NOAA assigned each one with a letter (-A, -B, -C …). Then, when the satellite reached orbit after launch, it was given a number. For example, the polar-orbiting satellite NOAA-H launched on September 24, 1988. When it reached polar orbit, it became known as NOAA-11.
The polar-orbiting satellites of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1, -2, -3, and -4) are a bit different. Instead of letters, they are designated by numbers during their construction, testing, and launch phases. However, they still become NOAA-20, -21, -22, and -23 when they attain orbit. NOAA-20 takes its historical place in the sky as a next generation satellite with significant imaging capability improvements from its predecessors.
Why will their names change from “JPSS” to “NOAA”? According to NOAA documentation, the change is to maintain consistency in naming conventions that NOAA has followed since 1978 for polar-orbiting satellites.
Except for the NOAA-NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (Suomi NPP), which was developed as a joint research mission and therefore not renamed a numbered NOAA satellite when it reached orbit, NOAA’s satellites are typically built in sets or series.
[The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), one of five instruments on-board NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) satellite and will provide accurate, detailed atmosphere, temperature, and moisture observations essential for weather forecasting. Credit: Exelis]
Now that JPSS-1 has reached polar orbit, the satellite’s designation has been transitioned to NOAA-20. However, the entire series of satellites, of which JPSS-1 is the first, is still referred to as the JPSS series.
Click here to get more detailed information about the satellite, take a look back at its journey to space, and read more about its mission to enhance weather forecasts three- to seven-day out, and beyond.
Edited for WeatherNation by Meteorologist Mace Michaels