Stunning global image of Earth taken by a NASA satellite

Stunning global image of Earth taken by a NASA satellite

Stunning global image of Earth taken by a NASA satellite

It’s a striking image of our planet, capturing everything from the bright blue hue of the Caribbean Sea to the dense smog over the north India.

But aside from providing a new global perspective of Earth from space, the photo is just the start of a new science mission that will monitor ocean ecology and marine health, as well as track wildfires, droughts and floods. .

That’s because it was created by a recently launched NASA satellite, NOAA-21, which experts hope will provide vital information about our planet’s oceans, atmosphere and land.

The Earth-observing spacecraft carries an instrument known as the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which began collecting data in early December, producing a mosaic of frames over a 24-hour period.

Stunning global image of Earth taken by a NASA satellite

Stunning: This photo not only offers a new global perspective of Earth from space, but is just the start of a new science mission that will monitor ocean ecology and marine health, as well as monitor wildfires, droughts and floods

It captures everything from the clear blue Caribbean Sea (pictured) to the snow-capped Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau

It captures everything from the clear blue Caribbean Sea (pictured) to the snow-capped Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau

WHAT IS NOAA-21?

NOAA-21 rocketed into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Nov. 10.

It has an instrument known as the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which will provide vital information about our planet’s oceans, atmosphere and land.

VIIRS measures sea surface temperature, a metric important for monitoring hurricane formation, while monitoring ocean color helps monitor phytoplankton activity – an important indicator of ocean ecology and marine health.

NOAA-21 is the second of NOAA’s new generation of satellites in polar orbit.

The first, NOAA-20, was launched in 2017, a third will follow in 2027 and a fourth in 2032.

Another research satellite, the Suomi-NPP, launched into space in 2011, served as the blueprint for the JPSS series.

It broke all sorts of features, including the snow-capped Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, to the haze and smog over northern India caused by agricultural fires.

VIIRS measures sea surface temperature, a metric important for monitoring hurricane formation, while monitoring ocean color helps monitor phytoplankton activity – an important indicator of ocean ecology and marine health.

“The turquoise color visible around Cuba and the Bahamas in the lower left image above comes from sediment in the shallow waters around the continental shelf,” said Dr. Satya Kalluri, a program scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Over land, VIIRS can detect and measure wildfires, droughts and floods, and the data can be used to track the thickness and movement of wildfire smoke.

The instrument also provides analysis of snow and ice cover, clouds, fog, aerosols and dust, and the health of the world’s crops.

It collects images in both the visible and infrared light spectrum, allowing scientists to see details of the Earth’s surface.

One of the main uses is producing images over Alaska, Dr Kalluri added, because satellites such as NOAA-21 orbit from the North Pole to the South Pole, so they fly directly over it several times a day arctic.

It also has what is known as a Day-Night Band, which captures images of lights at night, including city lights, lightning, auroras, and lights from ships and fires.

“VIIRS serves so many disciplines, it’s an absolutely critical set of measurements,” said Dr. James Gleason, NASA project scientist for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Flight Project.

“VIIRS provides many different data products that are used by scientists in unrelated fields, from agricultural economists trying to make crop predictions, to air quality scientists predicting where wildfire smoke will be, to disaster support teams counting night lights to determine the impact of a disaster.”

NOAA-21 is the second operational satellite in the JPSS series, launched into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Nov. 10.

The previous one – known as NOAA-20 – was launched in November 2017.

Covered: It also broke haze and smog over northern India (pictured), which experts say was caused by agricultural burning

Covered: It also broke haze and smog over northern India (pictured), which experts say was caused by agricultural burning

NOAA-21 (pictured in an artist's impression) is the second operational satellite in the JPSS series, launched into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Nov. 10.

NOAA-21 (pictured in an artist’s impression) is the second operational satellite in the JPSS series, launched into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Nov. 10.

Both craft will observe the entire Earth’s surface twice a day as they sail 824 kilometers above our planet at a speed of 27,360 km/h.

A third JPSS satellite will be launched in 2027 and a fourth in 2032.

Another research satellite, the Suomi-NPP, launched into space in 2011, served as the blueprint for the JPSS series.

“We are launching several weather satellites to make sure that we always have one twice and now three times. Space is a dangerous environment,” said Dr. Gleason.

“Things happen and you can lose an instrument or a satellite, but we can’t lose the data. It’s too important, for too many people.’

NOAA-21 will be the 21st polar satellite operated by NOAA and will have a lifetime of approximately seven years.

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WHAT IS THE GEOSTATIONAL OPERATING ENVIRONMENTAL SATELLITE PROGRAM?

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Program (GOES) is a joint effort between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA’s operational GOES-S geostationary constellation consists of – GOES-16, operating as GOES-East, GOES-15, operating as GOES-West, and GOES-14, operating as the on-orbit spare. GOES-17 is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.

The GOES-R series retains the two-satellite system implemented by the current GOES series.

However, the locations of the operational GOES-R satellites will be 75 degrees west longitude and 137 degrees west longitude.

The latter is a shift to exclude conflicts with other satellite systems.

The operational life of the GOES-R series is up to and including December 2036.

These spacecraft help meteorologists observe and forecast local weather conditions, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, flash floods and other severe weather.

In addition, GOES observations have proven useful in monitoring dust storms, volcanic eruptions and wildfires.

The benefits that directly improve the quality of human life and the protection of the Earth’s environment include:

  • Search and rescue satellite-assisted system (SARSAT) support
  • Contribute to the development of global environmental warning services and improvements to basic environmental services
  • Improving the ability to forecast and provide real-time warnings for solar disturbances
  • Providing data that can be used to expand knowledge and understanding of the atmosphere and its processes

The next series of GOES satellites includes GOES-R, S, T and U.



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