NASA News: NASA Launches Multi-Talented Earth-Observing Satellite

WASHINGTON -- NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite soared into
space early today aboard a Delta II rocket after liftoff at 5:48 a.m.
EDT from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

NASA's National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite
System Preparatory Project, or NPP, successfully separated from the
Delta II 58 minutes after launch, and the first signal was acquired
by the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. NPP's solar array
deployed 67 minutes after launch to provide the satellite with
electrical power. NPP is on course to reach its sun-synchronous polar
orbit 512 miles (824 km) above Earth.

"NPP is critical to our understanding of Earth's processes and
changes," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. "Its impact
will be global and builds on 40 years of work to understand our
complex planet from space. NPP is part of an extremely strong slate
of current and future innovative NASA science missions that will help
us win the future as we make new discoveries."

NPP carries five science instruments, including four new
state-of-the-art sensors, which will provide critical data to help
scientists understand the dynamics of long-term climate patterns and
help meteorologists improve short-term weather forecasts. The mission
will extend more than 30 key long-term datasets NASA has been
tracking, including measurements of the ozone layer, land cover, and ice cover.

NPP serves as a bridge mission between NASA's Earth Observing System
(EOS) of satellites and the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite
System, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
program that will also collect weather and climate data.

Scientists will use NPP data to extend and improve upon EOS data
records. These satellites have provided critical insights into the
dynamics of the entire Earth system, including clouds, oceans,
vegetation, ice, solid Earth and atmosphere. NPP will allow
scientists to extend the continuous satellite record needed to detect
and quantify global environmental changes.

"The measurements from NPP will benefit science and society for many
years to come," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth
Science Division. "NPP will help improve weather forecasts, enable
unique scientific insights, and allow more accurate global
environmental predictions. I'm confident that the strong partnerships
forged in the NPP program between NASA and NOAA, industry, and the
research and applications communities will ensure the success of the mission."

The satellite will be operated from the NOAA Satellite Operations
Facility in Suitland, Md. NASA will operate NPP for the first three
months after launch while the satellite and instrument are checked
out. NPP operations will then be turned over to NOAA and the JPSS
program for the remainder of the mission.

NPP data will be transmitted once every orbit to a ground station in
Svalbard, Norway, and to direct broadcast receivers around the world.
The data will be sent back to the United States via fiber optic cable
to the NOAA Suitland facility. NPP data is then processed into data
records that NASA and NOAA will make available through various data archives.

The Delta II launch vehicle that delivered NPP into orbit also
deployed auxiliary payloads within 98 minutes after launch. The five
small "CubeSat" research payloads are the third in a series of NASA
Educational Launch of Nanosatellite missions, known as ELaNa missions.

The NPP mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Md., for the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission
Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The Joint Polar
Satellite System program provides the NPP ground system. NOAA will
provide operational support for the mission. Launch management is the
responsibility of the NASA Launch Services Program at the Kennedy
Space Center in Florida.

For more information about NPP, visit:


For more information about the ELaNa III mission, visit:



NASA Seeking Student Experiments For Balloon Flight

WASHINGTON -- NASA is accepting applications from graduate and
undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of
space on a scientific balloon. This balloon flight competition is a
joint project between NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium
(LaSPACE) in Baton Rouge.

NASA is targeting fall 2012 for the next flight opportunity for the
LaSPACE maintained High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) facility.
HASP is a balloon-borne instrument stack that provides an annual
near-space flight opportunity for 12 undergraduate and graduate
student-built instruments.

A panel of experts from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops
Island, Va., and LaSPACE will review the applications and select the
finalists for the next flight opportunity. Launched from the Columbia
Scientific Balloon Facility's remote site in Fort Sumner, N.M.,
flights typically achieve 15 to 20 hours duration at an altitude of
approximately 23 miles.

HASP houses and provides power, mechanical support, interfacing and
communications for the instruments. It can be used to flight-test
compact satellites, prototypes and other small payloads designed and
built by students.

HASP can support approximately 200 pounds of payloads and test
articles. Since 2006, the HASP program selected more than 50 payloads
for flights involving more than 200 students from across the United States.

The deadline for applications for the 2012 flight is Dec. 16. A
question-and-answer teleconference for interested parties is
scheduled on Nov. 11.

For application materials, teleconference schedule and additional HASP
details, visit:

For information about NASA's scientific balloon program, visit:

For information about NASA's education programs, visit:


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