NOAA Satellite Information System

Future NOAA Polar Orbiting and Geostationary Satellite Systems

During the next decade, through 2020, substantial changes will be made to the NOAA constellation of polar orbiting and geostationary satellites. These changes are being implemented to take advantage of new technologies, the requirements for additional and different data, and the need to achieve a cost effective United States environmental satellite program.

Joint Polar-orbiting Satellite System (JPSS)

NOAA's portion of JPSS will consist of platforms based on the Suomi NPP satellite. NASA launched the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP), on Oct. 28, 2011. On January 24, 2012, NPP was renamed Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or Suomi NPP. NASA renamed NPP in honor of the late Verner E. Suomi, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin who is recognized widely as "the father of satellite meteorology." The SNPP mission, launched in October 2011, is the bridge between the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS), NOAA POES constellation and the future JPSS satellites. JPSS is the civilian component of the former NPOESS program manager by NOAA.

The JPSS implements NOAA's requirements to provide global environmental data from low Earth-orbiting satellites in support of NOAA's mission to understand and predict changes in weather, climate, oceans and coasts, and the space environment that support the Nation's economy, and protect lives and property. The overarching concept of the JPSS is the continuation of polar-orbiting environmental satellite observations required to support NOAA's mission for a weather ready nation, healthy oceans, climate adaptation and mitigation and resilient coastal communities and economies.

The JPSS satellites fulfill NOAA's national operational environmental sensing requirements for continuous observation of Earth's environment, performing four major functions:

The JPSS will also fulfill NOAA's long-standing obligation to the Initial Joint Polar-orbiting Satellite System (IJPS), an agreement between NOAA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) to collect and exchange environmental data from the polar orbit to users in support of operational meteorological and environmental forecasting and global climate monitoring, the Joint Transition Activities, and the future Joint Polar System (JPS).

The JPSS will succeed NOAA's POES satellites and ground systems by leveraging investments made in NOAA POES, NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS), and the SNPP to maintain continuity of global, operational, space-based observations. The JPSS will deliver an operational polar-orbiting satellite system that will exceed NOAA POES capabilities in terms of quality, volume, accuracy and timeliness of environmental data products and services. The JPSS system will consist of satellites in the 1330 Local Time of the Ascending Node (LTAN). JPSS-1 launched on November 18, 2017, and is now operating as NOAA-20.

Significant progress has been made with the SNPP satellite launched on October 28, 2011. The five SNPP instruments trace their heritage to instruments on NASA's Terra, Aqua and Aura missions, on NOAA's POES spacecraft, and on DOD's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). The spacecraft directly transmits stored mission sensor data to a receiving station in Svalbard, Norway, and provides continuous direct broadcast of real-time sensor data. Mission data is routed from Svalbard to the United States.

The five instruments on the NPP satellite are: The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS), which is a 22-channel passive microwave radiometer, to create global models of temperature and moisture profiles that meteorologists enter into weather forecasting models. The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), a Michelson interferometer, monitors characteristics of the atmosphere, such as moisture and pressure that are used to produce improvements in both short-and-long term weather forecasting. The Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) continues the long-term continuous data record of ozone measurements from space. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) has a 22-band radiometer that collects visible and infrared views of Earth's dynamic surface processes, such as wildfires, land changes, ice movement, and measures atmospheric and oceanic properties, including clouds and sea surface temperatures. The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) is a 3-channel radiometer that measures reflected solar radiation, emitted terrestrial radiation, and total radiation, to monitor the natural and anthropogenic effects on the Earth's total thermal radiation budget.

Partnerships are key to the ability to provide continuous polar-orbiting measurements. NOAA, NASA, and the DOD/Air Force have a productive relationship in polar observations; sharing data, coordinating user needs, and operating satellites. This cooperative relationship is essential and will continue. Likewise, partnerships with Europe through EUMETSAT will continue to be a strong part of the polar-orbiting constellation.

Chart SNPP/JPSS Direct Readout Continuity of Services

Figure 1:   SNPP/JPSS Direct Readout Continuity of Services.

Once operational, SNPP and JPSS space crafts will replace the current POES constellation. The POES spacecraft revolutionized the way in which we observe and predict the weather. We are evolving the existing "weather" satellites into an integrated environmental observing system by expanding our capabilities to observe, assess, and predict the total Earth system - ocean, atmosphere, land, and the space environment. Data from advanced sensors will be available faster than today significantly improving NWP forecasts and serving data continuity requirements for improved global climate change assessment and prediction.

The JPSS is comprised of satellite missions, and ground and space components for command, control and communications, and product processing for making data products available to users. The satellite missions include JPSS-1, JPSS-2, Free Flyer-1, Free Flyer-2 and SNPP. JPSS will provide data to the Direct Readout community through High Rate Data (HRD) and Low Rate Data (LRD) broadcasts on select JPSS missions. Figure 1 provides the direct readout continuity of services.

The JPSS Ground System is comprised of command and data acquisition sites (ground stations); communication systems for transmission of commands, telemetry, and stored mission data (SMD); mission management centers, and product processing and distribution centers. Enterprise synergies across missions are planned for similar ground system functions. For redundancy, an interface to the space-based Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) is provided. Ground stations are located at Svalbard, Norway; Fairbanks, AK; and McMurdo, Antarctica. Primary mission management, product processing, and distribution are located at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility (NSOF) in Suitland, Maryland; alternate processing center operations are located at the Vertex Center in Fairmont, WV.

Real-time JPSS data products will be delivered to the NOAA Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System (CLASS) and National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS) Environmental Satellite Processing Center (ESPC) for additional processing and distribution to users. JPSS data products will be available to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) Climate Data Record (CDR) Program via CLASS.

Direct Broadcast Services

In addition to the space-to-ground transmission of stored mission data (SMD) from each satellite, select JPSS missions will simultaneously broadcast continuous real-time data streams to suitably equipped field terminals worldwide. At the present time, the JPSS-1 mission will provide a High Rate Data (HRD) direct broadcast (similar to SNPP) and the JPSS-2 mission will provide both an HRD and a Low Rate Data (LRD) broadcast (similar in link characteristics as the Metop Advanced High Resolution Picture Transmission (AHRPT) , in the interest of maintaining compatibility with user ground stations and pre-processors). Figures 2-4 provides the planned RF links for the JPSS missions.

The direct broadcast/real-time field terminals will be capable of processing RDRs into EDRs by using a JPSS/Field Terminal Segment (FTS) open source processing software package using commercial-off-the-shelf systems. NOAA, though the JPSS/FTS program, will distribute the non-proprietary field terminal software, software changes, and program updates. The direct broadcast X-band community supported by NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) will still be able to acquire tailored software directly from CIMSS.

SNPP Direct Readout Configuration

Figure 2:   SNPP Direct Readout Configuration.

Figure 3: JPSS-1 Direct Readout Configuration

Figure 3: JPSS-1 Direct Readout Configuration.

JPSS-2+ Conceptual Direct Readout Configuration

Figure 4: JPSS-2+ Conceptual Direct Readout Configuration.

The CIMSS developed a capability to support NOAA's SNPP/JPSS direct broadcast users in the real-time regional applications of ATMS, CrIS, and VIIRS data. CIMSS released an independent processing package for SNPP, based on the Interface Data Processing Segment (IDPS) operational versions of the VIIRS, CrIS, and ATMS algorithms implemented by Raytheon in the Algorithm Development Library (ADL) version 3.0.

The initial version of the SNPP package called "Community Satellite Processing Package (CSPP)" is a public release. The first version contains VIIRS SDR and EDR algorithms only; CrIS and ATMS support will be added later. The CSPP project is specifically to support NOAA direct readout users in making the transition from POES to SNPP and subsequently to JPSS. CSPP is a stand-alone package for 64-bit Intel Linux platforms, and packaged similarly to IMAPP. It runs from the Linux command line, and does not require other processing framework to make installation friendly (see Appendix I) and straight forward for future upgrade and maintenance.

Features and Goals of SNPP/JPSS component of CSPP are further summarized below:

The High Rate Data (HRD) broadcast will be a full resolution data set (up to the 15 Mbps data rate limit) containing sensor data necessary to generate data products and is intended to support users at fixed, regional hubs. A complete set of auxiliary/ancillary data will also be available at an on-line server for field terminal real-time processing. The following table provides the HRD link parameters of interest:

Data Flow Center Frequency Data Rate Coverage (half cone angle) BER PCM Format

Block Coding

Convo. Coding Modulation Polarization


7812 MHz

15 Mbps

62° about +Z S/C axis



(255,223) RS, I=4

Rate ½ length 7



Table 1: HRD Direct Readout Link Parameters

The Low Rate Data (LRD) broadcast will be a subset of the full sensor data set (up to the 4 Mbps data rate limit) and is intended for U.S. and worldwide users of field terminals (land and ship-based, fixed and mobile environmental data receivers operated by DoD users and surface receivers operated by other U.S. government agencies, worldwide weather services, and other international users). Some data compression may be employed for the LRD link. The following table provides the LRD link parameters of interest:

Data Flow Center Frequency Data Rate Coverage (half cone angle) BER PCM Format

Block Coding

Convo. Coding Modulation Polarization


1707 MHz

4 Mbps

62° about +Z S/C axis



(255,223) RS, I=4

Rate 3/4 length 7



Table 2: LRD Direct Readout Link Parameters

The JPSS LRD broadcast parameters (frequency, bandwidth, data rate, and data content) have been selected to satisfy NOAA requirements for low-rate, real-time direct broadcast, as well as be closely compatible with the broadcast parameters for the Advanced High Resolution Picture Transmission (AHRPT) format that has been accepted and approved by the Coordinating Group on Meteorological Satellites (CGMS) and will be used on the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) Metop spacecraft.

LRD is not part of SNPP and is currently not planned to be part of JPSS-1. Issues currently being worked by DOC with regard to future availability of L-Band frequencies for government weather prediction could impact LRD availability in the JPSS era.

GOES-R Series

NOAA will be introducing a new advanced imager in 2015 with significantly improved performance to the current GOES satellites. The new Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) will be carried aboard the GOES-R Series. The ABI will have 16 spectral bands that will provide a host of new capabilities and products for NOAA and its user community. The 0.59-0.69 micron visible band will have 0.5 km resolution. Bands centered at 0.47, 0.865, and 1.61 micron will have 1.0 km resolution with all other bands being 2.0 km resolution. The new imager scanning rate will be significantly increased to provide a full disk every 5 minutes (Mode-4), or 4 full disks per hour (one every 15 minutes) plus 12 CONUS scans per hour (one every 5-minutes) and 120 mesoscale images per hour with up to two mesoscale regions being observed in each 15 minute interval (Mode 3).

The ABI will provide key performance parameters cloud and moisture imagery for Full Disk, Continental United States (CONUS), and Mesoscale coverage for monitoring, forecasting and severe weather warning. Additional instruments include Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS), Extreme Ultraviolet Sensor/X-Ray Sensor Irradiance Sensors (EXIS), Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI), Magnetometer (MAG) and the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM)

The GOES-R instrument raw data downlink (includes imager, lightning mapper, and four space environment instruments) is expected to be approximately 75 Mbps. The corresponding entire Level 1b data stream GOES Re-Broadcast (GRB) will be in the order of 31 Mbps, in a dual circularly polarized data stream. The goal is to downlink the entire Level 1b data stream as GRB data. The GOES-R spacecraft communication system will be significantly different from the previous GOES satellites, driving changes to the direct-receive data sites and the introduction of new data formatting. Because of the large data rate the GVAR format will no longer be used.

The GOES-R Program Office (GPO) has developed a Government Reference Architecture that provides a workable solution to the GOES-R GRB requirements. To minimize the impact on the user, the GRB will continue to be transmitted in L-band, but use an expanded bandwidth (1681 MHz -1692 MHz). Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN) has been combined with Low Rate Information Transmission (LRIT) and the separate EMWIN transponder eliminated from GOES-R. The new service will be known as High Rate Information Transmission (HRIT)/EMWIN. On GOES-R, the Data Collection Platform Report (DCPR) service will be operated in the 1679 MHz to 1680 MHz range (seeTable 3).

Service Current Frequency Spectrum Current Data Rate Future Frequency Spectrum Future Data Rate
GVAR/GRB 1685.7 MHz  2.11 mbps 1686.6 MHz 31 Mbps
LRIT –> HRIT 1691 MHz  128 kbps 1694.1 MHz  400 kbps*


1692.7 MHz  9.6 kbps 1694.1 MHz  400 kbps*


1694.5 MHz 100/300/
1200 bps
1679.9 MHz 300/1200 bps

*Note: HRIT and EMWIN will have a combined service with a data rate of 400 kbps.

Table 3 - Impact on Transmission Frequencies/Data Rates for GOES-R

To fit within the available bandwidth of 11 MHz (centered around 1686.6 MHz), the GRB service will employ dual polarization, having two signals: one right circular and the other left circular polarization. Users will need new field terminal equipment to receive GRB as it replaces GVAR. The GOES-R program investigated providing an interim service that would partially emulate the GVAR, but determined that system would be best served by conducting a controlled system phase-over to the GRB service. The main factor contributing to this decision was the reliance on previous generation satellites and ground equipment remaining available to support the broadcast, coupled with the complexity and risk of fielding two simultaneous services. While there are no plans for a simplified GRB data format during the transitional period prior to GOES-R operations, a key feature in the Ground Segment Project transition plan is maintaining continuous contact with the user communities to ensure they are fully aware of the requirements needed to be able to receive and process the larger and faster GRB data stream. At the Direct Readout Conference held in April 2011, users requested NOAA to develop a minimum system configuration for GRB reception to assist GVAR users in planning their transition.

The GRB transmission format is DVB-S2, but some details of the modulation are still being defined. The intent is to take advantage of standard formats and technologies. GRB's dual polarization format represents a complete format change from GVAR, driven by the improved temporal and spatial measurement characteristics of the new instruments. This quantum leap in instrument capability and potential for vastly improved user products necessitates the complete transition of users from GVAR to GRB. Field terminals and user facilities must evolve as GOES-R's capabilities are developed, launched, tested and placed into operational service. More details can be found on the GOES-R website at:

Future Services

The transition of the NOAA direct readout services is taking place across several spacecraft constellations. This will encompass many years of development, coordination and implementation. Replacement of the analog Weather Facsimile (WEFAX) with the new digital LRIT, in 2005, started a transition period that will culminate with the implementation of the GOES Re-Broadcast (GRB) service on the GOES-R spacecraft constellation. NOAA's current direct broadcast services will change dramatically in data rate, data content, frequency allocation and field terminal configurations. The future launches of geostationary and polar-orbiting environmental satellite constellations will employ new downlink frequency allocations, larger bandwidths, and faster data rates. Environmental data users must employ new field terminals unique to that particular broadcast service. A summary of the spacecraft constellations and field terminal changes are listed below:

METOP Constellation

POES Constellation

S-NPP/JPSS Constellation

NOAA’S GOES Constellation

NOAA’s GOES-R Constellation

Based on the typical life expectancy of the satellites, we would expect APT and HRPT will be available on at least one POES satellite until about 2017 - 2019. APT is not available on NOAA satellites after NOAA-19. The HRPT service will not be replace with an L-band service on JPSS-2 satellite and beyond.


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