L3Harris Selected for Future U.S. Weather Satellite Imager Design Phase Study

  • Continues development of next-generation weather imagers concept
  • Leverages proven, high-maturity technology to provide low-risk solution
  • Provides a capability leap for future weather forecasting

MELBOURNE, Fla., April 5, 2021 (L3Harris Technologies PR) — NASA has selected L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) to develop a concept for the next generation of geostationary weather imagers which will help advance future severe storm tracking, weather forecasting, climate and other Earth observations.

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NOAA’s GOES-T Weather Satellite Completes Critical Testing in Preparation for December 2021 Launch

DENVER (NOAA PR) — NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in a series of advanced geostationary weather satellites, recently completed rigorous testing to ensure it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch and orbiting in space 22,236 miles above Earth.

During thermal vacuum testing, GOES-T was placed in a large 29 feet x 65 feet chamber and subjected to a vast range of temperatures, soaring as high as 188 degrees Fahrenheit (87 degrees Celsius) and dropping as low as minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 55 degrees Celsius) to simulate the extreme temperatures of launch and the space environment.

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NASA Joins White House National Climate Task Force

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As a leading agency observing and understanding environmental changes to Earth, NASA has joined the National Climate Task Force. President Joe Biden issued an executive order Jan. 27, which initially outlined details of the task force.

The administration’s climate agenda outlines putting climate at the center of the country’s foreign policy and national security and encourages a governmentwide approach to climate change.

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Umbra Hits Regulatory “Jackpot” for its Satellite Constellation Able to See a Soda Can from Space

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (Umbra PR) — Umbra, a geospatial intelligence data provider, was granted a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate its Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite with 1,200 MHz of bandwidth. This bandwidth allocation will allow them to generate images with as low as 15-centimeter (6 inch) ground sampling distance (GSD). At this resolution, Umbra’s satellites will be able to detect items as small as a soda can from space.

Umbra is the first commercial satellite provider in U.S. history to receive a license enabling this level of capability from space. Umbra, which recently raised $32 million, pushed their chips “all in” on capability and patented technology, which had never been attempted by a commercial firm or approved by a U.S. regulatory body.

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Video: 5 Things to Know About Space Weather

Video Caption: Want to know more about space weather? Comment with your questions for a Q&A with NOAA space weather experts.

Just like we experience weather on Earth, there’s weather in space! The Sun may look very constant and quiet from Earth, but it’s constantly spewing out a stream of particles called the solar wind. Space weather is activity on the Sun that can affect Earth and interact with our technology.

Learn more: https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/space-wea…

NOAA Awards Second Delivery Order for Commercial Radio Occultation Data

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — On February 19, 2021, NOAA awarded Delivery Order 2 (DO-2) under its existing Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts for radio occultation (RO) data to GeoOptics.

Through DO-2, NOAA will purchase 1300 occultations per day for six months from March to September, with a license to share the data with U.S. government agencies immediately upon receipt and to share on a full and open basis after 24 hours. Following verification of data and system readiness, NOAA plans to begin incorporating commercial RO data into operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) models in May.

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Sentinel-6 Passes In-orbit Tests with Flying Colors

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In November 2020, the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched into orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Now, months later, the satellite has successfully passed what is known as the ‘in-orbit verification phase’, where its equipment is switched on and the instruments’ performance is checked.

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NOAA Awards SWFO Ground System Command and Control Contract to L3Harris

An artist’s rendering of the SWFO-L1 satellite. (Credit: NOAA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA has awarded the Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 (SWFO-L1) Command and Control contract to L3Harris in Melbourne, Florida. The cost plus fixed-fee contract has a total value of $43,784,063, with a five-year performance period. The SWFO-L1 mission is planned to launch in 2025 as a ride share with the NASA Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe.

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Top NOAA Satellite Expert Discusses New NOAA, JAXA Agreement to Boost Global Weather Forecasts

AMSR2 Hurricane Dorian observations. (Credit: NOAA)

SLIVER SPRING, Md (NOAA PR) — NOAA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) recently entered a new agreement, designed to improve global weather forecasts, while building upon a long, successful partnership between the two agencies.  The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Global Observing Satellite Missions, signed last month, will continue NOAA’s ability to provide secure and timely access to global environmental data that protect life and property in the U.S. 

Dr. Mitch Goldberg, senior scientist at NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, highlighted the key elements of the MOU and why it matters.

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Report on Commerce Department’s Space Accomplishments

WASHINGTON (Commerce Department PR) — The Office of Space Commerce published a report on the Commerce Department’s space commerce accomplishments under Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Trump Administration.

The report recaps the Department’s success in achieving its strategic objective to expand commercial space activities through a host of actions. The text of the report is below.

Department of Commerce Accomplishments Space and Space Commerce

Under the leadership of Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Department of Commerce emphasized the importance of space and space commerce to U.S. national and economic security, prosperity, and the growing role of the Department in this area. Strategic Objective 1.1 of the Secretary’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 was to increase U.S. commercial space activities; the Department’s efforts to improve space situational awareness were Agency Priority Goals in FY2020 and FY2021.

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2020 Tied for Warmest Year on Record, NASA Analysis Shows

Globally, 2020 was the hottest year on record, effectively tying 2016, the previous record. Overall, Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s. Temperatures are increasing due to human activities, specifically emissions of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane. (Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Lori Perkins/Kathryn Mersmann)

NEW YORK (NASA PR) — Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, according to an analysis by NASA.

Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, the year’s globally averaged temperature was 1.84 degrees Fahrenheit (1.02 degrees Celsius) warmer than the baseline 1951-1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. 2020 edged out 2016 by a very small amount, within the margin of error of the analysis, making the years effectively tied for the warmest year on record.

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Sea Ice Loss and Extreme Wildfires Mark Another Year of Arctic Change

In the Arctic Ocean, sea ice reached its minimum extent of 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers) on Sept. 15 – the second-lowest extent since modern record keeping began. (Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

Arctic Report Card: 15 years of observations document impact of changing polar climate

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA’s 15th Arctic Report Card catalogs for 2020 the numerous ways that climate change continues to disrupt the polar region, with second-highest air temperatures and second-lowest summer sea ice driving a cascade of impacts, including the loss of snow and extraordinary wildfires in northern Russia.

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The Good, the Bad and the Brexit: UK’s Participation in European Space Programs Curtailed by EU Departure

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although the United Kingdom’s (UK) “Brexit” departure from the European Union (EU) on Jan. 1 will not affect its membership status in the European Space Agency (ESA), the nation’s participation in a number of European space programs is either ending or being curtailed.

On Christmas Eve, the UK and EU announced an agreement in principle that will govern trade, security and political relations after Brexit. Under the agreement, the UK’s participation in the:

  • Galileo satellite navigation and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) program will end;
  • Copernicus Earth observation satellite program will continue, contingent upon a further agreement to be worked out next year; and
  • EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EUSST) program will end, although the Britain will continue to receive data as a non-EU country.
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Congress Approves Boost for Office of Space Commerce, Funding for Weather Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Congress approved a budget boost for the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) as it gears up to oversee civilian space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA).

Congress provided OSC with $10 million and approved its plan with the merge with the Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 approved on Monday. The amount is $5.9 million above the total the two offices received fiscal year 2020.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had wanted to elevate OSC into a bureau that would report directly to him. However, Congress elected to keep the office within the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS).

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NOAA Launches Crowdsourcing Competition for Better Forecasting of Magnetic Field with DrivenData and HeroX

$30K in Prizes for Improvements of Current Models to Provide Advance Warning of Geomagnetic Storms and Reduce Errors in Navigation Systems

Boulder, Colorado — December 15, 2020 — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with the NASA Tournament Lab today announced its crowdsourcing challenge, “MagNet: Model the Geomagnetic Field”. The challenge, which is being implemented by DrivenData and HeroX, seeks to mitigate the impact of geomagnetic storms on navigation systems through improved forecasting by increasing the accuracy in real-time magnetic field modeling and reducing errors in the magnetic navigation systems. 

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