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USA - NASA Completes Critical Testing Milestone for NOAA’s JPSS-2 Satellite

The Joint Polar Satellite System-2 satellite, or JPSS-2, has cleared a critical testing milestone, bringing it a step closer to launch.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s polar-orbiting satellite emerged from the chamber after completing its thermal vacuum testing. This test is meant to show that the spacecraft and all of its instruments will perform successfully when exposed to the harsh environments of space.

“I can absolutely say with 100% certainty that the observatory is working great,” said JPSS Flight Project Manager Andre Dress at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “All the instruments are performing great, and we’re going to meet all our requirements – and then some.”  

JPSS-2, the third satellite in the Joint Polar Satellite System series, will provide data that improves weather forecasts and advance our understanding of extreme weather and climate change. It is slated to launch Nov. 1, 2022, from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and will be renamed NOAA-21 after reaching orbit. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is managing the launch.

The thermal vacuum test simulates the vacuum of space and the harsh temperature extremes the satellite will experience while in Earth’s orbit.

“The satellite has to keep itself warm enough in a cold state and cool when it’s in a hot state, and still provide the science performance as it’s going through the temperature transitions,” said Chris Brann, deputy project manager for the JPSS flight project at Goddard. “If it works at the two extremes of hot and cold, it will work in between.”

During testing, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite instrument, or VIIRS, experienced a test equipment anomaly. Engineers determined the anomaly was a result of slight movement between the test equipment and the instrument, which were caused by thermal deformation.  Modifications were quickly made to the test set up, and the system was retested — this time with the expected performance.

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