GILBERT, Ariz. (NOAA PR) – On July 26, in a clean room at the Northrop Grumman facility in Gilbert, Ariz., NOAA’s JPSS-2 satellite emitted several loud noises as each of its five solar array panels detached from the body of the satellite, then unfolded, extending its full length of 30 feet. Beneath each panel, an engineer in a bunny suit gave a thumbs up as the latches clicked into place.
The deployment of the solar panel, which had been installed three days earlier, marked the last major milestone in the testing of the weather satellite. JPSS-2 has now been packaged and will be shipped to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California for its November 1 launch. The next time the solar panel deploys, it will be in space.
“This is the culmination of seven years of work on this program,” said Scott Capehart, Joint Polar Satellite System program manager at Northrop Grumman Corporation, where the spacecraft is built and tested. “Its success establishes that we are ready for launch.”
Once launched, the JPSS-2 satellite, like its predecessors Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20, will orbit the Earth from pole to pole, taking measurements and capturing images that will help us plan for hurricanes. , snowstorms, floods and other severe weather events. The satellite will provide critical data to global weather forecasting models.
“During stressful times, like encountering a problem at the end of a long night shift, I always come back to the impact JPSS-2 will have,” said Adelina Nastasoiu, instrument systems engineer at Northrop Grumman. “The weather patterns it’s going to affect, the lives it’s going to save, and it’s freely sharing data with the world.”
JPSS-2 will also measure our oceans and atmosphere, map and monitor volcanoes and wildfires, and tell us about the things that fill our air and lungs, like dust and smoke. Due to its wide band, it will observe every point on Earth at least twice a day.
In Gilbert’s clean room, the satellite sat upright, mounted on a wheeled rack. Multi-layered insulation resembling gold foil covered the body of the spacecraft. Covers with “Remove Before Flight” signs protected each of its four instruments.
About 20 feet away, engineers checked the connections and voltage on the spacecraft for JPSS-3, the next in-line satellite to be launched. And packed in boxes and stacked on wire shelves at the back of the clean room were the parts of JPSS-4, the final satellite in the JPSS series. Together, the three satellites are expected to provide data in the 2030s.
Together, NASA and NOAA oversee the development, launch, testing, and operation of all satellites in the JPSS program. NOAA funds and manages the program, operations, and data products. On behalf of NOAA, NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system, and launches the satellites, which NOAA operates.