A Delta II rocket carrying the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft launched this morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NPP is the first earth-observing satellite to measure long-term climate change and daily weather, in effect aiming to measure the overall health of the planet. The satellite continues the observation work done by satellites Terra, Aqua and Aura with better observations, better models and predictions.
Data from NPP will also help lay the groundwork for future National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites.
In addition to the NPP spacecraft, the Delta II rocket also carried six nanosatellites, known as CubeSats. CubeSats are cube-shaped satellites that are 10 cm on a side and weigh 1 kilogram. These CubeSats, which are part of the ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellite) program, are run by four universities: University of Montana, Auburn University, University of Michigan, and Utah State University.
CNN iReporter Tony Galvan viewed the launch from Goleta, California. Check out his iReport for details on monitoring the CubeSats launched along with NPP via ham radio.
"On Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, an arc of light illuminates the pre-dawn sky at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., as a Delta II rocket launches with the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft payload. 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."Source: NASA