Mike Mignogno, NOAA's Polar Programme Manager
In our continuing series of interviews with key members of the MetOp team, we spoke with NOAA's Polar Programme Manager, Mike Mignogno. Check back for further interviews, as well as updates on the MetOp mission.
What is the significance of a polar orbit for meteorological missions?
Polar-orbiting satellites provide global coverage of meteorological and environmental observations twice per day and at approximately the same local time as it passes over a given location. The data from polar-orbiting satellites are used extensively in numerical weather prediction models in the U.S. and Europe and to accumulate long term records of environmental variables for monitoring climate change.
Could you explain the synergy between MetOp-A, once in orbit, and NOAA’s current meteorological satellite since they will be covering different areas at different times?
Since the early 1980’s, NOAA has maintained a constellation of two polar-orbiting satellites, one in an afternoon orbit and one in a morning orbit. This has provided global cover of environmental observations four times per day, and ensured a continuity of data and services in at least one orbit in the event of the failure of one of the satellites.
Under our cooperation agreement with EUMETSAT, they will assume responsibility for the morning polar orbit and NOAA will maintain the afternoon orbit. Together, the NOAA and EUMETSAT satellites will maintain the long-standing continuity of data and services from polar orbit.
How will the instruments onboard the two satellites complement each other?
Most of the instruments on the NOAA and EUMETSAT satellites are identical or perform like functions to provide global observations of environmental variables four times per day.
Each of the satellites will provide observations of weather systems and surface features for the generation of products such as: sea surface temperature and vegetation health and extent; the vertical distribution of atmospheric temperature and moisture; the global distribution of ozone in the stratosphere; and space weather. They will also provide services such as direct read-out of the acquired data, data collection of information from fixed and moving platforms and search and rescue support.
What are NOAA’s plans for the new instruments onboard MetOp-A?
The MetOp-A satellite will carry new instruments which will be important to NOAA. Among these are the advanced infrared sounder known as IASI, the scatterometer called ASCAT, and the ozone instrument, GOME.
The IASI will provide atmospheric temperature information with vertical resolutions significantly higher than what we get from the corresponding current NOAA sounder, and the scatterometer will provide ocean surface wind speed and direction.
The ozone instrument will provide a second source of ozone observations that will complement the data from the ozone instrument on the NOAA afternoon satellite. NOAA is currently developing processing and data distribution systems to make these data available to our environmental prediction centres.