meteorological satellite

meteorological satellite

meteorological satellite: see satellite, artificial; weather satellite.

The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) monitors meteorological, oceanographic, and solar-terrestrial physics for the United States Department of Defense. The program is now run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The (originally classified) mission of the satellites were revealed in March 1973. They provide cloud cover imagery from polar orbits that are sun-synchronous at nominal altitude of 450 nautical miles.

History

During the 1960s, one of most important projects the United States civil space program was involved in and dealt with meteorology and weather forecasting. Unbeknownst to many, the U.S. military services were also starting up a weather satellite program. This program, the DMSP, would relay important weather and climate data to the warfighter for more effective military operations. From the onset of the DMSP program, knowledge of its existence was limited to 'need-to-know' personnel. The United States Congress had assigned a substantial budget towards the civil weather satellite program; if knowledge of a second military program came out, it would have been hard for the military to justify it.

Initial operations of early DMSP systems provided radio return of cloud-cover imagery for planning of US high-resolution photographic reconnaissance and surveillance missions, which utilized film-return systems. DMSP satellites operated in a sun-synchronous orbit; passing over the north and south poles, the satellite would 'see' different strips of the Earth at the same local time each day. The DMSP satellites had periods of roughly 101 minutes, so they would orbit the Earth 14.3 times in 24 hours. This period combined with the sun-synchronous orbit would have the satellite pass over the whole surface of the planet twice a day.

The images acquired were relayed to the Earth and received by two command and readout stations established at retired Nike missile sites located near Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington and Loring Air Force Base, Maine. From these sites, the images were then sent to Air Force Global Weather Central (AFGWC) located at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Images would then be processed, forming a mosaic representing the cloud patterns that were observed from the orbiting satellites. Meteorologists could then provide flight crews and other commanders with up-to-date observations for their particular missions. Further advancements enabled data to be collected in the visual spectrum down to a half-moonlit scene. Infrared processing enabled night viewing. Other enhancements increased onboard processing by including multiple onboard computers and expanded power requirements.

Now in its fifth decade of service, the DMSP has proven itself to be a valuable tool in scheduling and protecting military operations on land, at sea, and in the air. In December 1972, DMSP data was declassified and made available to the civil/scientific community. On June 1, 1998 the control and maintenance of the satellites were transferred to NOAA in order to reduce costs.

Launch history

DSMP was initially known as Program 35. The first successful launch of a Program 35 spacecraft used a Scout X-2 rocket lifting off from Point Arguello near Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) on 1962-08-23. This was P35-2; the earlier P35-1 launch on 1962-05-24 had failed to reach orbit. All five Program 35 launch attempts using Scout rockets, including the two sucesses, were made from VAFB SLC-5. Other early launches were conducted using Thor launch vehicles, with Altair or Burner II upper stages. Program 35 had by this time been renamed the Data Acquisition and Processing Program, and the DAPP acronym is sometimes used for these satellites. Eight satellites were launched using Atlas E launch vehicles between 1982 and 1995. Three were launched aboard Titan II vehicles between 1997 and 2003. One has been launched on a Delta IV rocket.

Name ID Launch date Launch vehicle Mass (kg) Period (min) Perigee (km) Apogee (km) Inclination (deg) Status Alt. name
DMSP 4A 1 1965-003A 19 Jan 1965 Thor-Altair 250 97.7 471 822 98.8 Decayed 7/13/79; 1st use of Thor-Altair OPS-7040
DMSP 4A 2 1965-021A 18 Mar 1965 Thor-Altair 250 94.4 442 533 99.0 Decayed 12/31/89 OPS-7353
DMSP 4A 3 1965-038A 20 May 1965 Thor-Altair 250 98.7 527 829 98.2 In orbit OPS-8386
DMSP 4A 4 1965-072A 10 Sep 1965 Thor-Altair 250 101.5 639 1,013 99.0 In orbit OPS-8068
DMSP 4A 5 None 6 Jan 1966 Thor-Altair 250 ----- ----- ----- ----- Failed to orbit -----
DMSP 4A 6 1966-026A 30 Mar 1966 Thor-Altair 250 99.9 613 883 98.5 In orbit OPS-0340
DMSP 4A 7 1966-082A 16 Sep 1966 Thor-Burner II 420 100.4 680 872 98.8 In orbit; 1st use of Burner II OPS-6026
DMSP 4A 8 1967-010A 8 Feb 1967 Thor-Burner II 420 101.3 778 854 98.9 In orbit OPS-6073
DMSP 4A 9 1967-080A 23 Aug 1967 Thor-Burner II 420 102.2 822 878 98.8 In orbit OPS-7202
DMSP 4A 10 1967-096A 11 Oct 1967 Thor-Burner II 420 99.5 650 822 99.2 In orbit OPS-1264
DMSP 5A 1 1968-042A 23 May 1968 Thor-Burner II 420 101.9 809 888 98.8 In orbit OPS-7869
DMSP 5A 2 1968-092A 23 Oct 1968 Thor-Burner II 420 101.2 792 838 98.5 In orbit OPS-4078
DMSP 5A 3 1969-062A 23 Jul 1969 Thor-Burner II 420 101.1 775 844 98.5 In orbit OPS-1127
DMSP 5A 4 1970-012A 11 Feb 1970 Thor-Burner II 420 101.1 759 850 98.8 In orbit OPS-0054
DMSP 5A 5 1970-070A 3 Sep 1970 Thor-Burner II 420 101.9 764 874 99.1 Reentered 9/21/70 OPS-0203
DMSP 5A 6 1971-012A 17 Feb 1971 Thor-Burner II 420 100.6 755 817 98.3 In orbit OPS-5268
DMSP 5B 1 1971-087A 14 Oct 1971 Thor-Burner II 513 101.4 782 865 99.1 In orbit OPS-4311
DMSP 5B 2 1972-018A 24 Mar 1972 Thor-Burner II 513 101.5 787 868 99.1 In orbit OPS-5058
DMSP 5B 3 1972-089A 9 Nov 1972 Thor-Burner II 513 101.4 797 855 98.8 In orbit OPS-7323
DMSP 5B 4 1973-054A 17 Aug 1973 Thor-Burner II 513 101.2 795 839 98.5 In orbit OPS-8364
DMSP 5B 5 1974-015A 16 Mar 1974 Thor-Burner IIA 513 101.2 767 859 99.0 In orbit OPS-8579
DMSP 5C 1 1974-063A 9 Aug 1974 Thor-Burner IIA 513 101.5 792 862 98.7 In orbit OPS-6983
DMSP 5C 2 1975-043A 24 May 1975 Thor-Burner II 513 101.7 797 881 98.7 In orbit OPS-6229
DMSP 5C 3 1976-016A 19 Feb 1976 Thor-Burner II 513 89.0 90 355 98.9 Decayed 2/19/76 OPS-5140
DMSP 5D-1/F1 1976-091A 11 Sep 1976 Thor-Burner II 513 101.3 806 834 98.6 In orbit; aka AMS 1 OPS-5721
DMSP 5D1/F2 1977-044A 5 Jun 1977 Thor-Burner II 513 101.3 789 853 99.0 In orbit; aka AMS 2 OPS-5644
DMSP 5D-1/F3 1978-042A 1 May 1978 Thor-Burner II 513 101.1 804 817 98.6 In orbit; aka AMS 3 OPS-6182
DMSP 5D-1/F4 1979-050A 6 Jun 1979 Thor-Burner II 513 101.2 806 828 98.7 In orbit; aka AMS 4 OPS-5390
DMSP 5D-1/F5 None 14 July 1980 Thor 513 ----- ----- ----- ----- Failed to orbit -----
DMSP 5D-2/F6 1982-118A 21 Dec 1982 Atlas E 751 101.2 811 823 98.7 In orbit; aka AMS 5 OPS-9845
DMSP 5D-2/F7 1983-113A 18 Nov 1983 Atlas E 751 101.4 815 832 98.7 In orbit OPS-1294
DMSP 5D-2/F8 1987-053A 20 Jun 1987 Atlas E 823 96.89 564 653 97.6 In orbit; first to carry SSM/I microwave imaging sensor to see through clouds USA-26
DMSP 5D-2/F9 1988-006A 3 Feb 1988 Atlas E 823 101.3 815 826 98.7 In orbit USA-29
DMSP 5D-2/F10 1990-105A 1 Dec 1990 Atlas E 823 100.6 729 845 98.9 Operational, but not in desired orbit USA-68
DMSP 5D-2/F11 1991-082A 28 Nov 1991 Atlas E 823 101.9 835 855 98.9 Exploded in orbit May 2004 USA-73
DMSP 5D-2/F12 1997-057A 29 Aug 1994 Atlas E 830 101.9 839 856 98.9 In orbit USA-106
DMSP 5D-2/F13 1995-015A 24 March 1995 Atlas E 830 101.9 845 854 98.8 In orbit USA-109
DMSP 5D-2/F14 1997-012A 4 Apr 1997 Titan II 830 101.9 842 855 98.9 In orbit USA-131
DMSP 5D-3/F15 1999-067A 12 Dec 1999 Titan II 101.8 837 851 98.9 In orbit USA-147
DMSP 5D-3/F16 2003-048A 18 Oct 2003 Titan II 101.9 843 853 98.9 In orbit USA-172
DMSP 5D-3/F17 2006-050A 04 Nov 2006 Delta IV 102 841 855 98.8 In orbit USA-191

References

See also

  • NPOESS - the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System

External links

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