The spacecraft will begin trailblazing its mission as the the first satellite designed to collect data for both short-term weather forecasting and long-term climate modeling.
“We know it’ll become a significant part of our nation’s climate and weather monitoring system,” said Andrew Carson, NPP program executive at NASA headquarters in Washington, two days before the launch as reported by Space.com.
NPP will measure more than 30 different climate variables, including sea and land surface temperatures, global ice cover, atmospheric ozone levels and vegetative productivity. The observations will enable meteorologists to improve their weather forecasts and assist scientists seeking to understand longer-term climate changes and impacts.
According to researchers, NPP will also help monitor natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, wildfires and floods, they added. The satellite has a design life of five years, so it should keep observing through at least the end of 2016.
“The observations from NPP are needed for the forecasts today, as well as being another link in the chain of ongoing data observations,” said Jim Gleason, NPP project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.