L3Harris Technologies Inc. was selected by NASA to work on new technology designed to dramatically improve the accuracy and speed of US forecasts of hurricanes and other severe weather events.
The Melbourne-based company will test and evaluate an advanced concept of satellite weather sensors – called “sounders” – that measure temperature and water vapor for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The weather forecast modeling study begins this month.
NASA has also selected another high-tech company, Colorado-based Ball Aerospace, to do similar work. Then the space agency will appoint one of the two companies to do the production work.
Rob Mitrevski, vice president and general manager of spectral solutions for L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems, said the technology L3Harris is working on is important to help improve the accuracy of weather forecasts.
“Pollsters are helping to get ahead of this severe weather,” Mitrevski said.
Mitrevski said the development contract for the current pollster is valued at $ 8 million and the production contract will be valued at “much more” than that.
The sounders will be launched in the 2030s on a series of GOES satellites, operated by NOAA. GOES is an acronym for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.
Mitrevski said that because the satellites are in geostationary orbit – 22,300 miles above the equator – sounders can constantly “watch” slices of the atmosphere, looking for patterns of humidity and wind.
A geostationary orbit follows the direction of the Earth’s rotation and is used by meteorological satellites for real-time data monitoring.
Sounders will be able to monitor the Western Hemisphere, the Western Atlantic Ocean and the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Mitrevski said he expects about four NOAA satellites to be launched under this program, likely every several years, in order to extend the life of the program.
The L3Harris concept includes a sensor that offers readings that give severe weather trackers an advantage as they predict dangerous storms.
Announcing the contract award, Ed Zoiss, president of L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems, said that, “to produce accurate forecasts, weather forecast models require detailed observations from the Earth’s surface to the top of Our technology has and will continue to play a critical role in improving severe storm tracking and warnings by continuously feeding information into advanced weather forecasting models.
In April, L3Harris was selected by NOAA to perform a similar analysis in support of a geostationary extended observation or GeoXO satellite imager, which the company said “would collect meteorological, ocean and environmental data that could be used to assess and improve a range of climatic and natural conditions. disaster planning efforts. “
Future geostationary weather sounders and imagers are expected to be launched in the 2030s.
Mitrevski said the new L3Harris contract “continues a long legacy of working with NOAA and NASA” on weather technology.
L3Harris has developed around 75 meteorological and climate instruments over the past 60 years.
The company is a leading supplier of weather sensors piloted by US and international customers including Japan and South Korea.
“We are proud to continue to serve our customers and our country,” said Mitrevski.
The GEO-XO program is a collaborative partnership between NASA and NOAA.
NOAA funds, operates and manages the program, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, develops and acquires the mission system, including contract management.
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