The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project, or NPP, was launched on October 28, 2011 to collect and distribute remotely-sensed land, ocean, and atmospheric observations for the meteorological, oceanographic, terrestrial and global climate change communities. It aims to provide data continuity of these measurements from existing Earth-observing missions such as Aqua, Terra and Aura. The NPP satellite is the first in a series designed to provide critical data to improve short-term weather forecasts and increase understanding of long-term climate change.
On January 24, 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans, NASA has renamed its newest Earth-observing satellite in honor of the late Verner E. Suomi, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin who is recognized widely as "the father of satellite meteorology." The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) then became the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, or Suomi NPP (S-NPP).
S-NPP is a pilot mission for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), which is the next generation polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system for the USA. Onboard the S-NPP satellite, there are five state-of-the-art instruments/sensors: The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS), Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS), and Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES).
Like the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard Terra/Aqua, VIIRS is a multi-disciplinary sensor providing data for the ocean, land, aerosol, and cloud research and operational users. VIIRS spectral coverage allows for ocean data products similar to those from the Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS) and MODIS while providing slightly better spatial resolution (750 m) and improved global temporal coverage (one day). From the perspective of sea surface temperature (SST), VIIRS extends and improves upon the decadal series of measurements initiated by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and MODIS.
The JPSS-1 (NOAA-20) is the second mission in the JPSS series, which is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2017. For the rest of JPSS series, their schedules are also planned and can be found at the NOAA Launch-Schedule webpage: http://www.jpss.noaa.gov/launch_schedule.html.