A rocket carrying a weather satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Saturday, with plans to put the satellite in a polar orbit to help improve weather forecasting and hurricane tracking.
The Delta II rocket carried the Joint Polar Satellite System-1, the first in a new series of polar-orbiting satellites.
About 63 minutes after liftoff, the JPSS-1 satellite had deployed its solar arrays and was operating on its own power, NASA reported. It will be operational in three months, after its instruments have been tested, NASA said.
Unlike geostationary satellites, which stay in a fixed position above Earth, the JPSS satellites will be in a north-south orbit above both poles as the planet spins beneath. NASA said the JPSS-1 will be in an orbit with a 1:30 p.m. "local time of ascending node," meaning every time it crosses the equator, it will be 1:30 p.m. on the ground below it.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the JPSS satellites will cross the equator 14 times each day, providing data for forecasting and delivering observations during hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards. They will also monitor droughts, fires, poor air quality and harmful coastal waters, NOAA said.
The satellites will download their data to stations in the Arctic and Antarctic.
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