Oct 27, 2011 9:35 PM by Ariel Wesler

Advanced weather satellite set to launch from Vandenberg

A Delta two rocket is set to blast off early tomorrow morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The rocket is scheduled to launch at 2:48 A.M. It will carry NASA's most advanced weather satellite as well as some student projects involving Cal Poly students. The satellite, called NPP, will take precise measurements to learn more about our world.

The launch ushers in a new era of weather monitoring. NPP is the first NASA satellite that will provide observations for both weather forecasters, like our very own Dave Hovde, and climate researchers who focus on long term weather patterns.

As the Delta II rocket blasts off into space, it will be carrying a satellite that could have big impacts back here on earth.

"NPP is important because it makes observations and observations help us make better models, which then help us make a better prediction of what's going to happen," said NPP Project Scientist Jim Gleason.

2011 has been the costliest year for natural disasters in recorded history.

"There has been 10 separate weather events, each inflicting at least 1 billion dollars in damages, including tornado outbreaks, fires, hurricanes, and floods, and blizzards," said Mitch Goldberg, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The NPP satellite is made up of multiple instruments. They will collect 30 sets of data about the land, ocean, and atmosphere all while orbiting the earth. It's crucial climate and weather information that could give us a leg up on mother nature.

"We expect to improve our forecast skills out to five to seven days in advance of extreme weather events," Goldberg said.

But there's another piece of cargo on board, student satellites, known as CubeSats built at universities across the country.

"When the engines light up, hundreds of students across america will be sitting at ground stations," said ELaNa Mission Manager Garrett Skrobot.

The CubeSats will be housed in a device called a P-POD created at Cal Poly. It's all part of NASA's educational mission known as ELaNa. Students get a chance to build and launch their satellites, real world experience they can't get in the classroom.

"If you fail a test, you get an 'F'. If you fail problems or can't resolve issues, you don't go on the mission," said P-POD Program Lead Roland Coelho.

A mission seeking to make a world of difference.

NASA says the NPP will extend and improve upon the last decade of satellite records.

NASA officials are expecting perfect weather for tomorrow morning's launch. If you'd like to watch the launch live online, just click here


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