What a Launch!…and More GEMS to Follow

Nothing quite like watching lift-off…here’s the video sequence from Arianespace showing the flight of the rocket carrying South Korea’s GEMS satellite instrument into space earlier this week.

GEMS–the Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer–is a centerpiece of the Asian contribution to a triad of geostationary satellite missions watching air quality in some of the most pollution-prone urban centers of the world. The other similar missions to be launched are Sentinel-4 over Europe and TEMPO over North America.


The image above superimposes the field of view for each of the satellites over an image of nitrogen dioxide concentrations averaged over the 10 years 2005-2014 from the Ozone Mapping Instrument aboard NASA’s Aura satellite. Aura is part of the “afternoon-train” or A-train of international satellites focused on anthropogenic aerosols. But these satellites pass over any given spot on Earth the same time each day.

With GEMS, such information is now going to be 24/7 for Asia. As a geostationary eye on air quality, the new South Korean satellite watches meteorology and atmospheric chemistry continuously. In addition to GEMS, which uses spectrometers to track ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, aerosols, ultraviolet index, and other health-related factors in the atmosphere, the satellite includes meteorological and ocean color sensors. This gives a synergy to Earth observing at faster sampling rates and higher resolution over the region, advancing investigations of air pollution for a large portion of the world’s population.

The push for geostationary satellite monitoring of air quality that led to the launch of GEMS has been long in the making. In an article 8 years ago in BAMS, W.A. Lahoz explained that geostationary satellites give

an improved likelihood of cloud-free observations …with continuous observations of a particular location during at least part of the day. This “stare” capability …makes it very effective for the retrieval of the lowermost troposphere information for capturing the diurnal cycle in pollutants and emissions, and the import/export of pollutants or proxies for pollutants.

You can read more about the new capabilities in the BAMS article on GEMS by Jhoon Kim (Yonsei Univ.) and colleagues. The article, appropriately, posted online within an hour of the launch of the satellite.

BAMS cover outline 2This is actually a twin launch: The GEMS article is among the first of the new-look BAMS in AMS Journals Online. You’ll find highly readable typefaces with a simple layout easier for scrolling on screen. You’ll also note that we’re starting to publish articles as soon as they’re ready for launch, rather than waiting for them to collect into issues in print.

Also about to launch into the mail is a whole new approach BAMS is taking to print as well. The magazine is much more dense with important and exciting new information. The printed features (mirrored as well in the digital edition for AMS members) are short, highly accessible versions of the peer-reviewed research articles. We’re expanding our focus on new and important articles to relay the authors’ thoughts—in their own words—about their work and the challenges they’re solving in their next articles as well. This blog and AMS social media will reflect such thought-provoking new BAMS content in all sorts of ways—for reading, listening, and watching.

So GEMS is our partner in launch: a new era of air quality monitoring for Asia is paired with a new era of communications for AMS. As they say in the media..stay tuned, more to follow!

GOES-16/17 Virtual Science Fair Seeking Entries From Students

by Margaret Mooney, CIMSS
NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) in Madison Wisconsin is pleased to announce a virtual science fair for students from grades 6-14 applying GOES-16 or GOES-17 data to investigate weather scenarios and natural hazards.
‘Pleased’ is probably too mild of a word to describe our enthusiasm around this project. Madison is after all, the birthplace of satellite meteorology and CIMSS founder Verner Suomi is widely known as the “Father of Satellite Meteorology.”  Recent launches of the GOES-R, NOAA-20 and GOES-S satellites have made our building a very exciting to place to work! Our goal, and motivation, is to share our passion for GOES-R series data as broadly as possible.
One way to reach students is through the spring 2019 virtual science fair, part of “The GOES-R Education Proving Ground” at CIMSS. A key element of this effort, from the get-go, has been a core group of educators working with CIMSS in close coordination NOAA scientists.
GOES proving ground educators
Above: The original GOES-R Education Proving Ground Team from 2014 – from left to right: John Moore, Tim Schmit (NOAA), Margaret Mooney (CIMSS), Vicky Gorman, Peter Dorofy, Craig Phillips, Brian Whittun, Amy Monahan, and Charlotte Besse.
Most of the original teachers have rotated out of the core group. And sadly, Charlotte Besse, a Florida teacher, has since died of cancer – but not before attending the 2016 GOES-R launch with her family in tow!
A major perk for winners of the GOES-16/17 Virtual Science Fair will be official GOES-T launch invites.   Students will also receive $25 gift cards. Teachers coaching the winning teams will garner launch invites (no travel support) and conference travel support to attend and present at the 2020 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Centennial meeting in Boston.
There will be three winning teams: middle school, high school and grades 13/14 (community college or university). GOES-R Educators from five different states will judge the science fair entries. We will be accepting entries between March 1st through May 3rd, 2019. Guidelines, scoring rubrics and other supporting resources are all on-line at http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/education/goesr/vsf.
Please share with your favorite educator!

Field Tests for the New GOES-16

“Who ever gets tired of looking at this thing?” asked Steve Goodman of an appreciative audience when he presented a slide of the new imagery from GOES-16 at the 97th AMS Annual Meeting this January.
The answer was clearly, “Nobody.”
The images from GOES-16 have been dazzling, but the hard work of maximizing use of the satellite is ongoing, especially for Goodman’s agency, the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS).
The successful launch in November was a major step for the weather community. Compared to the older geostationary satellites, the new technology aboard GOES-16 offers a huge boost in the information influx: 3x improvements in spectral observing, a 4x spatial resolution advantage, and 5x temporal sampling upgrades. But new capabilities mean new questions to ask and tests to perform.
The satellite is barely up in space and already NOAA is targeting its performance for a major scientific study. Last week was the official start of a three-month study by NESDIS to “fine-tune” the data flowing from our new eye in space.
You can learn more about the GOES-16 Field Campaign in the presentation that Goodman gave at the Annual Meeting. He pointed out that it has been 22 years since the imager was updated, and that the satellite also includes the Global Lightning Mapper (GLM), which is completely new to space.
“We thought it would be good, getting out of the gate, to collect the best validation data that we can,” Goodman said.
er2Over a period of 6 weeks, the NASA ER-2 high-altitude jet will fly 100 hours in support of the studies. The flights will be based first from California and then in Georgia, well-timed to coordinate with the tornado field campaign, VORTEX-SE. All the while, the airplane’s downward-looking sensors need to be aimed to match the angle of observation of the satellite-borne sensors. The ER-2 will fly its specially built optical simulator that mimics the GLM.
“That’ll give us optical to optical comparisons,” Goodman noted.
To further check out GLM’s performance, there will also be underpasses from the International Space Station, which now has a TRMM-style lightning detector of its own. “That’s a well-calibrated instrument—we know its performance,” Goodman added.
Meanwhile lower-orbit satellites will gather data from “coincident overpasses” to coordinate with the planes, drones, and ground-based observing systems.
Such field campaigns are a routine follow-up to satellite launches. “Field campaigns are essential for collecting the reference data that can be directly related to satellite observations,” Goodman. He raises a number of examples of uncertainties that can now be cleared up. For example, some flights will pass over Chesapeake Bay, which provides a necessary “dark” watery background: “We didn’t know how stable the satellite platform would be, so there’s concern about jitter for the GLM…so we want to know what happens looking at a bright cloud versus a very dark target in side-by-side pixels.”
Goodman said tests of the new ABI, or Advanced Baseline Imager, involve checking the mirror mechanism that enables north-south scanning. For validation, the project will position a team of students with handheld radiometers in the desert Southwest, but also do a first-time deployment of a radiometer aboard a unmanned aerial system.
The expected capabilities of the ABI, with its 16 spectral channels, are featured in an article by Timothy Schmit and colleagues in the April issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Space-Based Environmental Intelligence Community Celebrates

by Ron Birk, Northrop Grumman
Over 150 stakeholders in our Space-based Environmental Intelligence community came together December 1 at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., for a special event co-hosted by the American Astronautical Society and the American Meteorological Society. Key stakeholders from NOAA, NASA, USGS, Congress, the Administration, the European Union, the private sector and academia celebrated accomplishments including the successful launch and deployment of the NOAA GOES R geostationary weather satellite.
There was a buzz throughout the networking event about advancing societal benefits into the future. Dr. Bill Hooke, Associate Executive Director of AMS and author of Living on the Real World, brought his compelling perspective on the value of science for society. Dr. Piers Sellers, acclaimed astronaut and Earth scientist, shared his findings from over 30 years of research and space travel on the value of monitoring our Earth from space in an excerpt from the recently released National Geographic Before the Flood movie.
The audience enjoyed an impressive video prepared by the space-based environmental community (watch for the video to be posted here soon). Major aerospace players, including Ball Aerospace, Harris Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, provided impressive accomplishments linked together to form the value chain from environmental sensors processed into information products to inform emergency responders in saving lives and protecting property for a Weather Ready Nation. The Society of Satellite Professionals International and the European Commission Copernicus program enhanced the video highlighting benefits and capabilities that span the environmental intelligence value chain. The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Sustainable earth Observation Systems (SeOS), and the Aerospace Corporation joined in sponsoring the event.
The Honorable Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee, arrived just as Tom Fahy announced the Senate passed the Weather Research and Forecasting Act S.1561. Congressman Bridenstine enthusiastically called for the space-based environmental community video to be shared with congressional committees. He emphasized the value of environmental information for severe weather warnings, especially tornados and floods, key to people of Oklahoma and across the nation. He described steadfast support for NOAA operational polar and geostationary weather missions, Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES R), and heralded the value of Earth science to monitor the vital signs of our planet with benefits for our economy, protection of life and property, and national security. The Congressman also emphasized progress and plans an increasingly robust Earth observations system, including benefits of being augmented by commercial weather data. A key area identified as a challenge for the community is space situational awareness, recognizing that low Earth orbit is increasingly congested and contested.
Tremendous recognition is due to everyone in the community coming together to make this important enterprise successful and vibrant as we continue into the future. Thanks to all for bringing so much talent and energy to the event.  Our challenge and opportunity is to continue to reach out and expand our community, recognizing that everyone across the U.S. and around the world benefits from quality space-based environmental intelligence.

GOES-R: Are You Ready for Something Awesome?

By Jonathan Malay, AMS Past-president and retired Lockheed Martin Washington Operations
I’m sorry to say, the word “awesome” seems way overused these days. OK, it’s pretty funny when Cecily Strong’s character on Saturday Night Live’s “Girl Talk” sketch keeps saying “Awesome!” That’s amusing, but it’s not awesome. Awesome is a word we simply can’t help ourselves from using when we’re really blown away by something, like when we gaze at the natural miracle of the Grand Canyon below us, or when we behold the immensity, both in size and raw emotional impact, of the new One Trade Center in southern Manhattan, or when we see an Olympic record being broken.
As a meteorologist and a space guy, I’ve been fortunate enough to look up at the Space Shuttle from the foot of its launch pad at Cape Canaveral. I’ve seen the brilliant flames when the mission lifted off, and, a few seconds later, felt the vibrations of sound waves penetrate all the way to my bones. I stood in a clean room at the Stennis Space Center a few years ago where I saw, and actually touched, the initial structure and propulsion module of GOES-R, a spacecraft destined to become the first of a new and revolutionary generation of geostationary meteorological satellites. I can honestly say these things I saw and felt were really and truly awesome. goes_r
If the schedule holds, at 5:42 p.m. this Saturday, November 19, that satellite will be launched. Thousands of eyes, either in spectator locations, or in mission control rooms, at National Weather Service centers, on big-screen TVs, on computer monitors, or even on handheld devices, will watch the magnificent white- and copper-colored Atlas V as its powerful RD-180 engines ignite and send the GOES-R spacecraft toward its assigned orbit in space. It will be awesome. Really and truly.
GOES-R, which has been some 15 years in the making, is going to deliver to meteorologists, oceanographers, and space weather forecasters at NOAA and everywhere—and to the people of the United States and all the Americas—a truly awesome set of capabilities, such as:

  • Three times more spectral information
  • Four times greater spatial resolution
  • Five times faster coverage
  • Real-time mapping of total lightning activity
  • Increased thunderstorm and tornado-warning lead time
  • Improved hurricane track and intensity forecasts
  • Improved monitoring of solar x-ray flux
  • Improved monitoring of solar flares and coronal mass ejections
  • Improved geomagnetic storm forecasting

By now, AMS members and the meteorological community are probably aware of the improvements GOES-R and the other birds in the series—S, T, and U—will provide over the current GOES-N/O/P-series satellites, which have been in orbit since 2006. This new generation of GOES satellites will far exceed anything we’ve seen before. As someone who lived the GOES-R experience while working at Lockheed Martin in Washington, D.C., I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with many of the fantastic people who have made it a reality. These folks at NOAA and NASA, on the White House staff, on Capitol Hill, at my great company, at our industry partners, and across the meteorological, oceanographic, and space weather communities . . . there are too many of you to acknowledge individually (except program director Greg Mandt, my good friend and colleague, who truly deserves a special shout-out)—you have all been awesome!
So, along with all my friends in government and at Lockheed Martin Space Systems and the Advanced Technology Center, United Launch Alliance, Harris, Exelis, ATC, LASP, and all the great contractors on the team, we’ll all be watching Saturday’s rocket launch, saying with all our hearts: “GO GOES-R! GO ATLAS!” And then, as the mission disappears in the sky, we’ll all involuntarily say, “Awesome!”

Real-Time User Satellite Data: Partly to Mostly Available

By the AMS Committee on Satellite Meteorology, Oceanography, and Climatology
Accurate forecasting and creation of weather products require large amounts of input data. Satellite data and imagery provide a large percentage of that time-critical information, including the basis of timely warnings of tornadoes and hurricanes, solar storm-induced electric currents, and the spread and concentration of volcanic ash clouds.
But the role of satellites in saving lives and preventing havoc from atmospheric events is not limited to originating essential data and imagery. Satellites make possible reliable and continuous transmission of data to the meteorologists who issue warnings, watches, and forecasts. For example, warning and water-management data from remotely located, geographically diverse terrestrial sensors in streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas are transmitted via the GOES Data Collection System. Thanks to satellites, these data get to first-responders and disaster managers anywhere in the country via the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN).
Many government agencies and the private sector have partnered on an NWS initiative called “StormReady®,” which requires multiple methods—including satellite transmissions—to receive NWS and hydrometeorological monitoring of data. Rapid and reliable communications leading to life- and property‐saving responses have never been better.
Unfortunately, the improvements made by the NWS StormReady® initiative may be threatened by recent and future radio‐frequency spectrum auctions prompted by the growing demand to share federal spectrum. Sharing between commercial broadband and sensitive satellite ground stations may be a source of radio frequency interference, which will disrupt weather product dissemination. For the first time, there is a real threat of these warnings not being received by first-responders because of potential interference caused by commercial broadband providers who will now share the same bands as StormReady® participants.
Private sector and federal users receive the imagery and science data from GOES/GOES-R satellites to guarantee data availability with rapid receipt time. If terrestrial infrastructure is degraded, the direct broadcast guarantees continuation of data.
As AMS Fellow Michael Steinburg put it at a recent webinar (see link at the end of this post): “On the one hand . . . we recognize the continued need to evaluate and optimize federal radio spectrum assignments and allocations as consumer electronics, mobile technology, and the Internet of Things experience explosive growth–sector growth that in fact results in significant growth for America’s weather industry, as new devices and platforms arise all over the world. On the other hand . . . this growth cannot put in jeopardy the core delivery methods that are used by governments and America’s weather industry to reliably collect, aggregate, and deliver foundational weather data because what those do is they provide mission-critical, lifesaving weather products. We cannot–as a Weather Enterprise united in our common goals of saving lives and improving the quality of lives for the world’s citizens–allow this to occur.”
The products developed from these satellites lead to the answers for the following questions:

  • “How many miles of coastal population should we evacuate ahead of landfall for a tropical storm or hurricane?”
  • “When does a severe storm forecast need to alter operations for the energy production or generation industry in a region under imminent threat for severe weather?”
  • “How does a mariner obtain the best possible data to enable ocean freight to safely arrive at our ports?”
  • “At what point do volcanic ash clouds, severe turbulence, or near-Earth radiation demand changes in the heading, altitude, and direction of a commercial or private aircraft to protect the safety of passengers and crew?”

Based on the results of the recent auction, which generated more than $40 billion in revenue, the temptation of government officials to focus more exclusively on the enormous revenue these auctions can create will be great. We, who provide the American people with reliable and accurate weather forecasting and warnings, along with the state and local disaster managers who rely on this information, must make our voices heard.
We urge you to be vigilant as recommendations are made for radio spectrum auctions, which may be shared between the nation’s weather satellites and commercial use. Your input to the Federal Communications Commission on the importance of meteorological products to industry segments will be necessary in the next few months to communicate the importance this spectrum plays in weather forecasting. Comments to the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology can be directed to Julius.Knapp@fcc.gov.
Two recent AMS-sponsored events discuss this situation in considerable detail. See https://ams.confex.com/ams/95Annual/webprogram/Session37898.html and http://swfound.org/events/2015/challenges-in-sharing-weather-satellite-spectrum-with-terrestrial-networks/.

The Moore Tornado from Above

The July issue of BAMS includes a feature on the new and improved imaging capabilities of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), one of the five instruments aboard the Suomi NPP satellite. The cover montage highlights VIIRS’s expanded spectral aptitude and microscale resolution by depicting july_bams_coverthree different perspectives on the tornado outbreak that swept across the Midwest on May 20, culminating in detailed nighttime evidence of the track of  devastation in Moore, Oklahoma, as detected on May 21.
That month, the instruments on Suomi NPP were being calibrated by aircraft that in many cases flew directly under the path of the satellite. On May 20, one of these planes–an ER-2 flying above the cloud cover at approximately 65,000 feet–used the MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) to capture images of the storm that brought the EF5 tornado to Moore. The image below shows the tornado system minutes before it reached the city, and is overlaid on a Google Earth map to show the tornado location.

(Image credit: Google Earth/Ames Airborne Sensor Facility/Rose Dominguez)

NOAA's David Titley to Address Satellite Future in Uncertain Fiscal Climate

With dozens of presentations–and a handful of Town Hall meetings–addressing the early successes and possibilities of the new Suomi-NPP satellite, it is ironic that the intended successor missions are already in jeapordy two years before planned launch.
Last September NOAA released a report from a review panel chaired by former Lockheed Martin executive Thomas Martin that criticized the costs and oversight of NOAA’s upcoming operational polar orbiters (the Joint Polar Satellite System). Meeting the scheduled late 2015 launch is already iffy, but with the high cost of these multipurpose missions and low tolerance for Federal spending in general, the review panel findings pushed NOAA to look into trimming back the goals altogether. Among the alternatives would be to replace some of the sensors with older, less sophisticated equipment, or even to ditch some of the non-weather capabilities that serve the climatological community in particular
So while some attendees will be celebrating Suomi-NPP’s successes at a Town Hall (Ballroom G, 12:15 p.m.), at the same time (Ballroom A) other attendees will be contemplating the uncertain prospects for future satellite capabilities at a Town Hall on “The Role of Satellite Data in Environmental Prediction and the Challenges for the Satellite Programs in Today’s Fiscal Climate.” The presenter at the latter session is Dr. David Titley, Deputy Under Secretary for Operations at NOAA.

TRMM Keeps on Truckin'

It’s been 15 years since the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was launched. Over that time, TRMM has significantly advanced our understanding of precipitation through measurements of the global distribution of rainfall at Earth’s surface, the global distribution of vertical profiles of precipitation, and other rainfall properties. As a result, TRMM provides clues to the workings of the water cycle and the relationship between oceans, the atmosphere, and land. But the benefits of TRMM extend beyond the research community. The image below exhibits the kind of operational data TRMM can supply: it’s a rainfall analysis of SuperStorm Sandy that reveals the heaviest rainfall totals during the storm (more than 10.2 inches) were over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

TRMM rainfall analysis for SuperStorm Sandy, with the storm's track over the Atlantic Ocean overlaid in white. NASA image.

Despite its advanced age, TRMM continues to provide unique data; its enduring value is evidenced by the fact that more than 50 presentations at the AMS Annual Meeting in Austin are related in some way to TRMM and its data. A few examples: Yingchun Chen of the University of Melbourne will examine TRMM’s estimates of daily rainfall in tropical cyclones using the Comprehensive Pacific Rainfall Database (PACRAIN) of 24-hour rain gauge observations (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., Room 10b). A poster presentation by Dana Ostrenga of ADNET Systems and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will review the recently released Version 7 TRMM Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) products and data services (Monday, Exhibit Hall 3). Zhong Liu of George Mason University will present a poster on the TRMM Composite Climatology, a merger of selected TRMM rainfall products over both land and ocean that provides a “TRMM-best” climatological estimate (Monday, Exhibit Hall 3). In her poster, Hannah Huelsing of the National Weather Center will show how TRMM 3-hourly data were used to look at the spatial and temporal distribution of the Asian premonsoon and monsoon seasons in Pakistan during 2010’s severe flood year (Tuesday, Exhibit Hall 3).
As TRMM matures, it’s also broadening its horizons and crossing disciplines. Earth-observing systems are increasingly being utilized in the field of public health, and in Austin, the Fourth Conference on Environment and Health will include a themed joint session on this budding partnership. In that session, Benjamin Zaitchik of Johns Hopkins University will discuss the modeling of malaria risk in Peru (Monday, 5 p.m., Room 6b). Zaitchik and his colleagues modeled the influence of land cover and hydrometeorological conditions on the distribution of malaria vectors, as well as the relationship among climate, land use, and confirmed malaria case counts at regional health posts. In the study, meteorological and hydrological conditions were simulated with the use of observations from TRMM and other satellites.

Versatile VIIRS: Sandy Reveals More of Its Potential

The VIIRS instrument aboard the new Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite has a lot of jobs: among them, to measure cloud and aerosol properties, ocean color, sea and land surface temperature, ice motion and temperature, fires, and Earth’s albedo. Now, with the experience of Superstorm Sandy behind it, add tracking power blackouts to the list of tasks for this multifaceted instrument.
VIIRS–or more formally,  Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite, is a  scanning radiometer that collects visible and infrared imagery and radiometric measurements of the land, atmosphere, cryosphere, and oceans. Its low-light sensor–known as the day-night band–can detect light from cities and towns in the absence of clouds. This function recently proved to be highly valuable when NASA’s Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center used data from VIIRS to assist disaster responses agencies (including FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) in identifying areas that lost power during Superstorm Sandy. Composites of VIIRS images taken before and after Sandy (see below for an example) pinpointed the blackouts.
This is just one example of the promising capabilities of VIIRS; and the growing awareness of these capabilities is why VIIRS is the subject of a town hall meeting on Monday, January 7 (12:15-1:15 p.m., Room 18B) at the AMS Annual Meeting in Austin. Forecasters, meteorologists, and other end users will discuss how they are utilizing the new VIIRS datastream and the critical role it can play in weather forecasting and in improving emergency preparedness and disaster response efforts.
A number of other presentations in Austin will highlight the versatility VIIRS. Jeffrey Hawkins of the Naval Research Laboratory will take an in-depth look at VIIRS’s day-night band and efforts to create enhanced products geared toward various nowcasting applications (e.g., dust enhancement observations, smoke and volcanic ash plumes, cloud properties, tropical cyclone structure, etc.) (Wednesday, 1:30 p.m., Ballroom G). Donald Hillger of NOAA/NESDIS will compare and contrast imagery produced by VIIRS with that from other satellites (Tuesday, 11:45 a.m., Ballroom G). And Jim Biard of the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites will provide details on the VIIRS Climate Raw Data Record (C-RDR), including its contents and structure,  its production methods and process, and file access (Wednesday, 11:30 a.m., Ballroom G).
VIIRS is one of five instrument/sensor payloads aboard Suomi-NPP, which is the first of a new breed of satellites that will replace NASA’s Earth Observing System satellites. Launched in October of 2011, the progress and promise of Suomi-NPP and its new data applications will be explored at a town hall meeting on Tuesday (12:15-1:15 p.m.; Ballroom G).
Speaking of Superstorm Sandy, electricity outages, and town hall meetings, there are two related Town Halls of special importance Monday night at the AMS meeting: a wide-ranging meeting on the storm itself (7:30-9:30 p.m.; Ballroom E) and an exploration of the impacts of weather on the electrical grid (Monday, 6:30-8:00 p.m.; Room 14). More on this in future posts on The Front Page.

A composite image created from the VIIRS day-night band shows a portion of the Atlantic seaboard on November 1, 2012, just after Superstorm Sandy dissipated. The yellow regions indicate urban areas that had power before Sandy, but not after. From NASA SPoRT.