U.S.-Japan scientific cooperation strengthened with launch of new environmental monitoring satellite

May 17, 2012

NOAA scientists will use data from a new Japanese polar-orbiting satellite launched earlier today from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan, to help forecast severe storms, monitor the decline of Arctic sea ice, and predict the onset of El Niño, La Niña and other global climate phenomena. Once deemed operational, data from this new spacecraft and the U.S.' new Suomi NPP satellite, which was launched last year and is operated by NOAA, will strengthen the environmental monitoring capabilities of both nations.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed last year between NOAA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NOAA will use data from an instrument onboard JAXA's Global Change Observation Mission 1 - Water (GCOM-W1) satellite. 

The instrument, the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR-2), will provide data crucial for tracking sea-surface temperatures and support near real-time weather and ocean forecasts.

Additionally, under the MOU, NOAA will provide ground support, including ground reception of AMSR-2 data, and transmit it from Norway's Svalbard Satellite Ground Station to JAXA and to NOAA. NOAA will also process, archive and distribute AMSR-2 data products to users and make data from the Suomi NPP satellite and the upcoming Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellites available to JAXA.

"The cooperation between NOAA and JAXA is strong," said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. "JPSS will extend the agreement, providing significant and lasting benefits to scientists around the world"

JPSS is now operating Suomi NPP. The mission is a partnership between NASA and NOAA and is the first in a series of next-generation polar-orbiting satellites.The second in the series, JPSS1, is on track to launch in 2017.  

Kicza added, "The data from GCOM-W1 will complement the data we expect from JPSS, allowing us to meet observational requirements that otherwise would be difficult to meet."

"GCOM-W1, given the Japanese nickname "SHIZUKU" ("water drop"), is the first satellite of the GCOM series which enables us to observe global-scale, long-term climate change," said Dr. Masanori Homma, executive director for Space Applications Mission Directorate, JAXA. "We expect GCOM-W1, observing data of the global water cycle, will contribute greatly to NOAA's activities."

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook , Twitter and our other social media channels.