New Weather Satellite Launch Aborted After Rocket Issues Detected, Rescheduled for Wednesday

Pam Wright
Published: November 14, 2017

United Launch Alliance has rescheduled the launch of a next-generation weather satellite for Wednesday after a rocket issue prevented a planned liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday morning, NASA says.

According to NASA, the launch was aborted just minutes before liftoff after scientists detected a bad reading on the first stage of satellite's United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Boats located in the safety zone also forced the scrub, NASA officials said.

The launch is rescheduled for 4:47 ET Wednesday at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Once in orbit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Joint Polar Satellite System-1 will circle the globe from pole-to-pole 14 times a day and send back data that will help meteorologists make forecasts, according to the National Weather Service. In fact, 85 percent of the data used for weather forecast models come from polar-orbiting satellites similar to the JPSS-1.

The spacecraft also has the capacity to study long-term climate trends by extending the current 30-year satellite data record, according to a 2016 release. 

Jon Erdman, weather.com's senior meteorologist, says the state-of-the-art satellite, which will be renamed NOAA-20 once in orbit, will send imagery that isn't "what you typically see on a weather website or TV weather segment."

"These so-called polar-orbiting satellites collect data that is essential to gain a picture of the current state of weather around the globe, including over parts of the world where data is lacking," Erdman said. "Satellites like JPSS-1 are an essential foundation for global weather forecasts and for general monitoring of the planet."

(MORE: First New Weather Satellite of Trump Era Launches Next Month; It'll Track Climate Change Too, But That's Not Being Touted)

The JPSS-1 will also provide scientists with observations during severe weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards that will help improve forecasting, particularly in the three-to-seven-day window ahead of a severe weather event.

Using five advanced instruments, the satellite – the first of four planned JPSS satellites – will measure atmospheric temperature, moisture and rainfall, according to space.com.

In addition, the JPSS-1 can monitor the status of Arctic sea ice and the ozone hole hovering over Antarctica, two major indicators of global warming, Scientific American reports. 

"The reason why there is so much cross-agency support and international support for these missions is because the total amount of diverse and irreplaceable data enables so much more science to be done, it's not just weather forecasts, it's not just climate, but it's all sorts of small-scale meteorology, large-scale deforestation, tracking pollution, tracking smoke fields, tracking ash where there is a volcano," NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies director and climatologist Gavin Schmidt told Scientific American.


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