Fri, Feb 06, 2009
Weather Research Station Joins Two Others In Polar Orbit
The third time WAS the charm for NASA and the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Association. The Delta II booster carrying the
NOAA-N Prime research satellite lifted off early Friday morning
from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in
The countdown proceeded smoothly throughout the night, and up to
T-minus zero at 2:22 am Pacific time. Neither the spacecraft nor
the United Launch Alliance Delta II launch vehicle experienced any
technical issues, and the weather conditions remained
NOAA-N Prime -- also known as NOAA-19 -- joins NOAA-18 and one
European environmental satellite already in polar orbit. NOAA-Prime
carries seven scientific instruments, including two search and
rescue instruments and a data recording system.
Unique with this satellite is a new data collection system that
will relay meteorological, oceanographic data – even track
migration patterns of wildlife – to help researchers improve
their study of Earth’s environment.
Data from NOAA-19 will support several NOAA programs, including
weather analysis and forecasting, climate research, and detection
of forest fires and volcanic eruptions.
NOAA operates two types of satellite systems for the United
States -- geostationary and polar-orbiting. Geostationary
satellites constantly monitor the Western Hemisphere from around
22,240 miles above the Earth, and polar-orbiting satellites circle
the Earth providing global information from approximately 540 miles
above the Earth.
As ANN reported, the first targeted launch
attempt Wednesday was scrubbed, when a launch pad gaseous nitrogen
pressurization system failed. Engineers commenced immediate repairs
to that system, in hopes of launching the satellite Thursday... but
then a pad-mounted air conditioning compressor, which supplies
cold, dry air under the payload fairing surrounding the sensitive
satellite, also failed.
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