I’ve always thought that we need to deal with problems here on Earth before exploring other planets, and it looks like NASA at least partially agrees with me. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA-N Prime spacecraft lifted off at 2:22 a.m. PST today aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from NASA’s Space Launch Complex 2. NOAA-N Prime will monitor environmental events around the world—including fires, crop productivity, and methane air pollution levels.
The satellite also carries an instrument to study the quantity and extent of ozone in the atmosphere, as well as a space environment monitor that measures changes in Earth’s magnetic field.
NOAA-N is the last in a series of 16 polar-orbiting satellites launched since 1978. A new generation of environmental satellites, dubbed the National Polar Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), will collect data and generate weather forecasts beginning in 2013.
Photo Credit: NASA
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