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OCO-2 Terra Aqua Aura

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Status: Completed
Mission Category: Inter-Agency Partnerships
Launch Date: March 28, 1993
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA

Today, the nation's environmental satellites are operated by NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) in Suitland, Maryland. NOAA's operational environmental satellite system is composed of two types of satellites: geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES) for national, regional, short-range warning, and “now-casting”, and polar-orbiting environmental satellites (POES) for global, long-term forecasting, and environmental monitoring. Both types of satellites are necessary for providing a complete global weather monitoring system. In addition, NOAA operates satellites in the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), which are also polar-orbiting satellites. NESDIS also manages the processing and distribution of the millions of bits of data and images the satellites produce each day.

The POES satellite system offers the advantage of daily global coverage, by making nearly polar orbits roughly 14.1 times daily. Since the number of orbits per day is not an integer the sub-orbital tracks do not repeat on a daily basis, although the local solar time of each satellite’s passage is essentially unchanged for any latitude. The POES system includes the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and the TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS).

Because of the polar orbiting nature of the POES series satellites, these satellites are able to collect global data on a daily basis for a variety of land, ocean, and atmospheric applications. Data from the POES series support a broad range of environmental monitoring applications including weather analysis and forecasting, climate research and prediction, global sea surface temperature measurements, atmospheric soundings of temperature and humidity, ocean dynamics research, volcanic eruption monitoring, forest fire detection, global vegetation analysis, search and rescue, and many other applications.


Mission/Portal Page:
Instruments: AMSU-A (Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A)
AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer)
TOVS (TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder)

Relevant Science Focus Areas:

  • Carbon Cycle, Ecosystems, and Biogeochemistry
  • Weather

Relevant Science Questions:

  • How is the global Earth system changing?

Related Applications:

  • Coastal Management
  • Disaster Management
  • Water Management
  • Weather Prediction