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 Why is NASA launching a new polar satellite?

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This Thursday, a new Earth observation satellite will launch into space, where it will help scientists forecast the weather and keep an eye on increasingly common extreme weather events. The satellite, called Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2), is part of a global observation system and a product of a partnership between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

“NOAA’s weather satellites have never been more critical as extreme weather events continue to be more frequent because of climate change,” said Irene Parker, deputy assistant administrator for systems at NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Services, in a prelaunch briefing. “From 2017 through to September of 2022, the US has experienced 104 separate billion-dollar disasters. By comparison, from 1987 through 1991, there were only 15.”

JPSS-2 will launch in the early hours of November 10th, at 4:25AM ET on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Also on board will be a test of an inflatable heat shield called LOFTID that could help land heavier payloads on Earth or even on other planets like Mars.

NASA and NOAA have a whole network of satellites pointed toward the Earth to observe its environment, including JPSS-2’s predecessors, Suomi NPP and NOAA-20. JPSS-2 will join these two satellites in a polar orbit, meaning they circle the globe from pole to pole, covering the entire planet twice a day. 

“To predict local weather, we need to observe weather from this global perspective,” Tim Walsh, director of NOAA’s JPSS Program Office, said. “A dust storm in Africa can affect the development of a potential hurricane that might impact the east coast. A typhoon in Japan might result in heavy rainfall here in California several days later.”

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Andrew Sabastian is a tech whiz who is obsessed with everything technology. Basically, he's a software and tech mastermind who likes to feed readers gritty tech news to keep their techie intellects nourished.