What can you spot in this latest global image of Earth? There are turquoise seas around Cuba, an agricultural fire in northern India and, of course, the rest of our planet as seen in the first full view from the latest NOAA-earth observation satellite. 21 of the NOAA.
The images of Earth that make up this mosaic, along with some close-ups, were taken on December 5 and 6 by an instrument called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the satellite, who launched Nov. 10 from Vandenberg Space Force Base Nov. 10. (The spacecraft was previously known as JPSS-2.) VIIRS collects images in the visible and infrared light spectra, allowing scientists to see details of the Earth’s surface.
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VIIRS provides vital information to scientists about the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and land. It can detect differences in the color of the ocean, telling scientists where phytoplankton are or whether dangerous algal blooms have formed along human-inhabited coastlines. Atmospheric data from the instrument can help scientists predict and monitor the movement of storms.
NOAA-21 is the second operational satellite in a series called the Joint Polar Satellite System, which provides pole-to-pole global imagery. The last JPSS satellite, now known as NOAA-20, was launched in November 2017. Prior to that, the NOAA-NASA Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP), which provided a blueprint for the JPSS, was launched in 2011.
The satellites orbit from pole to pole, observing the entire surface of the Earth twice a day. It cruises 512 miles (824 kilometers) above the Earth at 17,000 mph (27,360 km/h) and crosses the equator 14 times a day. And they all carry a VIIRS instrument.
The third JPSS satellite is planned to launch (opens in a new tab) in 2027, and the fourth not yet (opens in a new tab) have a launch date.
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