Tag Archives: Ceres

NASA Space Place – NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) To Revolutionize Earth-Watching

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in May, 2016.

By Dr. Ethan Siegel

2013february2_spaceplaceIf you want to collect data with a variety of instruments over an entire planet as quickly as possible, there are two trade-offs you have to consider: how far away you are from the world in question, and what orientation and direction you choose to orbit it. For a single satellite, the best of all worlds comes from a low-Earth polar orbit, which does all of the following:

* orbits the Earth very quickly: once every 101 minutes,
* is close enough at 824 km high to take incredibly high-resolution imagery,
* has five separate instruments each probing various weather and climate phenomena,
* and is capable of obtaining full-planet coverage every 12 hours.

The type of data this new satellite – the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) — will take will be essential to extreme weather prediction and in early warning systems, which could have severely mitigated the impact of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Each of the five instruments on board are fundamentally different and complementary to one another. They are:

1. The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), which will measure the 3D structure of the atmosphere, water vapor and temperature in over 1,000 infrared spectral channels. This instrument is vital for weather forecasting up to seven days in advance of major weather events.

2. The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS), which assists CrIS by adding 22 microwave channels to improve temperature and moisture readings down to 1 Kelvin accuracy for tropospheric layers.

3. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument, which takes visible and infrared pictures at a resolution of just 400 meters (1312 feet), enables us to track not just weather patterns but fires, sea temperatures, nighttime light pollution as well as ocean-color observations.

4. The Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS), which measures how the ozone concentration varies with altitude and in time over every location on Earth’s surface. This instrument is a vital tool for understanding how effectively ultraviolet light penetrates the atmosphere.

5. Finally, the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant System (CERES) will help understand the effect of clouds on Earth’s energy balance, presently one of the largest sources of uncertainty in climate modeling.

The JPSS-1 satellite is a sophisticated weather monitoring tool, and paves the way for its’ sister satellites JPSS-2, 3 and 4. It promises to not only provide early and detailed warnings for disasters like hurricanes, volcanoes and storms, but for longer-term effects like droughts and climate changes. Emergency responders, airline pilots, cargo ships, farmers and coastal residents all rely on NOAA and the National Weather Service for informative short-and-long-term data. The JPSS constellation of satellites will extend and enhance our monitoring capabilities far into the future.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Caption: an artist’s concept of the JPSS-2 Satellite for NOAA and NASA by Orbital ATK (top); complete temperature map of the world from NOAA’s National Weather Service (bottom).

About NASA Space Place

With articles, activities, crafts, games, and lesson plans, NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov (facebook|twitter) to explore space and Earth science!

CNYO Observing Log: Attempted Observing, Successful Lecture, And Maker Hall Session For January, 2016

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

A brief summary of events already had in January. For the most part, this is the time of year when most activities slow to a crawl (unless you’ve got a good few pairs of thermals to wear, in which case you’re observing is limited by conditions and the build-up of water vapor as you breath too close to an eyepiece).

Solar @ Green Lakes, Nighttime @ Baltimore Woods, January 9th

With the Friday night session a complete wash at Baltimore Woods, Bob Piekiel and I ran a double on Saturday, January 9th. The first event was a solar observing run at Green Lakes State Park (amid current construction around the main building). Sadly, this was the best-attended failed session yet, with considerable cloud cover only providing the most fleeting glimpse of the Sun before taking it away again. Attendance peaked near 25, though, which is great news otherwise. Bob will be running (and I wing-man’ing) a few more solar sessions, for which we hope the skies agree at least once.


Observers observing, but not as planned @ Green Lakes. Click for a larger view.

I am pleased to mention that, near the end of the session, a few mountain bikers came by the scopes to ask what we were looking at. When I said it was a failed solar observing session, one of the bikers (in an SOS shirt) mentioned that he had learned some observing with “A guy named Stu.” Taking a few minutes to remember local amateur astronomer extraordinare Stu Forster was a treat that made my otherwise overcast day.

Later that night, during what was maybe-sort-of predicted to be an opening in the sky from 7 to 8, Bob and I waited patiently at Baltimore Woods for his monthly New Moon weekend session. We went with hope, then left with 90 minutes remaining in the session as the cloud cover only got worse-and-worse. Our loss was other’s gain, of course – as we’ve had a few previous January sessions that were painfully cold but clear. 2016 has started warm but painfully cloudy.

Ceres & Pluto @ DPL 4 CNY Skeptics, January 21st

The lecture given at DeWitt Community Library for our fellow science-minded friends in CNY Skeptics was a repeat (mostly) of the Ceres & Pluto lecture given at Liverpool Public Library late last year. With a few new pics and the benefit of one full pass of the lecture, this session went fairly well (minus at least one softball-stump-the-speaker question). Plans are already in the works for a few more lectures, including one at DPL for the non-affiliated library audience.

TACNY Maker Hall @ The Dr. King Community Celebration, January 30th


A view from the CNYO table (and a Meteor Game). Click for a larger view.

This past Saturday, CNYO hosted a strategically-placed table to talk astro-shop for a third MLK Community Day Celebration in a row (with continued thanks to STEM Superstar Mary Eileen Wood for the invitation to the event at Nottingham High School). With brochures, Prof. John McMahon’s graciously donated table-top scope (and a 38mm eyepiece to be able to get *anything* into focus in the background), Mars and Ceres pebbles, and a gyroscope in tow, we had about 50 kids and adults stop by over the course of the 2 hour 30 min event. Directly behind us, Dr. David Wormuth made a guest appearance and put his surgical skills to the test (well, not really) in a live demo for the attending audience.

TACNY Maker Hall At Dr. King Community Day, 30 January 2016 – CNYO Members Welcome To Join In!

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

CNYO will once again be running an astronomy and space science booth at this year’s TACNY Maker Hall on January 30th. I welcome anyone who wants to sign up through the yingtrsef.org links below and hang out to talk astronomy, demonstrate telescopes, keep track of my Mars and Ceres (and other) rocks, etc. If you’ve interest in attending, please drop me a line at and then fill out the registration info (below). We’ll plan the number and busy-ness of the booth pending interest.

* Maker Adventures Info: www.yingtrsef.org/makeroverview/
* Volunteer Registration: www.yingtrsef.org/maker-hall-volunteer-registration/

Details below from the official TACNY email announcement.

2016 TACNY Maker Hall @ Dr. King Community Day

The 2016 TACNY Maker Hall joins the Dr. King Community Day on January 30th! We are looking for individuals and organizations to volunteer their talents to run Adventure Stations. For two years, this well-known Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) outreach program has gathered over 300 Makers of all ages. The more volunteers, the more varied and engaging the event becomes!

What? TACNY Maker Hall at the Dr. King Community Day

When? Saturday, January 30, 2016
* 09:00a-12:30p Set up by Adventure Hosts, then lunch and time to explore the Maker Hall
* 12:30p-02:30p Families play in the Maker Hall
* 02:30p-04:00p Clean up

Everyone is invited to the Dr. King Unsung Heroes ceremony and the meal to follow!

Where? Syracuse City School District (location TBD)

Who? All ages, pre-K through senior citizens

Why? Because STEM is FUN!

2016jan12_mlk_fairAdventure Hosts can use existing “station kits” or you can come up with your own Adventure ideas that can me later used for year-round exploration by CNY schools, libraries and youth organizations. Maker experiences create inexpensive and fun windows into a variety of STEM fields. Children, teens and adults discover the importance of STEM as they play!

If you or your organization is interested in supporting this highly deserving STEM outreach program, please reply or email with your list of volunteers and your Adventure Station idea no later than January 8th, 2016. Space is available on a first come, first served basis. Can’t make it? Donations are welcome (TACNY is a 501(c)(3) organization) so we can expand access to Maker experiences and the fascinating world of STEM!