Weather forecasters officially have a new tool in their arsenal, as the first satellite in NOAA’s new Joint Polar Satellite System has passed rigorous testing and is now operational.

Launched last November as JPSS-1 and renamed NOAA-20 once it reached orbit, the satellite features the latest and best technology NOAA has ever flown in a polar orbit to capture more precise observations of the world’s atmosphere, land and waters. Data from the satellite’s advanced instruments will help improve the accuracy of 3-to-7 day forecasts.

2 NOAAOAA-20 caught this image of the fourth Nor'easter to batter the East Coast during the past winter on March 21. Credit: NOAA

“Improved weather forecasts can save lives, protect property and provide businesses and communities valuable additional time to prepare in advance of dangerous weather events,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

NOAA-20 provides NOAA’s National Weather Service with global data for numerical weather prediction models used to develop timely and accurate U.S. weather forecasts. In addition, high-resolution imagery from the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, known as VIIRS, will enable the satellite to detect fog, sea-ice formation and breaking in the Arctic, volcanic eruptions and wildfires in their very early stages. This advanced modeling and imagery information, shared with international and governmental partners, will help businesses, the emergency preparedness and response communities and individuals make the best decisions possible in the face of weather-related hazards.

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