Preparing for Big Weather Data

Gathering insight from Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite

Every day meteorologists broadcast environmental satellite information to millions of Americans. These data and images are created from satellites and associated ground systems developed through a collaborative effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). For over 30 years, Noblis has been working with NOAA and its National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) to improve the ground systems technology that receives and analyzes raw satellite data and imagery and converts it into oceanic, atmospheric, and land surface products used by the meteorological, hydrological, marine, agricultural, and transportation communities.

The next U.S. geostationary-orbiting environmental satellite, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites–R Series (GOES-R), is set to launch in 2016. The next U.S. polar-orbiting environmental satellite, the Joint Polar Satellite System -1 (JPSS-1) will launch in 2017. In preparation for these launches, the U.S. is implementing major upgrades in the capabilities of these next-generation satellites and their accompanying ground systems.

Both systems will provide significant improvements in the data provided to forecast and warn of severe weather and other changes in the environment. For example, the advanced imager on the GOES-R satellites will have four times the spatial resolution and more than five times the scanning frequency of current satellites. These will provide clearer images and higher-quality imagery loops, leading to substantial improvements in the detection and observation of environmental phenomena. Preparing for the large increase in data volume that will be transmitted by these satellites requires major upgrades to NOAA’s ground systems and data processing capabilities.

Meeting the world’s weather information needs through global collaboration

The United States partners with the international community to share environmental satellite data, enabling expanded geographic coverage, reducing costs, and improving the accuracy and timeliness of severe weather forecasts and warnings.

In October 2014, the Japan Meteorological Agency launched Himawari-8, a new geostationary satellite with an advanced imager, similar to GOES-R’s imager. As part of a long-standing international partnership between our countries, the U.S. will begin receiving data from Himawari-8 in 2015. This data is important to U.S. interests in the Pacific and to our weather forecasts because the Himawari-8 coverage over the Pacific is "downstream" of most U.S. weather. This data and the knowledge gained from it will also provide valuable experience to the U.S. satellite ground system enterprise in the use of this next generation of environmental satellite systems.

In order to take full advantage of the data transmitted by the Himawari-8 within the NOAA enterprise, the U.S. must create an affordable system that will process the data, create the needed imagery and products, and also contribute to a future enterprise ground system that will be built by NESDIS' Office of Satellite Ground Services.

Innovative approaches to retrieving and processing the Himawari-8 data will provide more than just a simple test of satellite data volume flow-through. Information retrieved from Himawari-8 will be used by the National Weather Service numerical weather processing, provide important situational awareness for the Weather Forecast Offices in Hawaii and other areas of the Pacific that are in the Himawari-8’s primary coverage regions, and provide valuable experience for future next-generation U.S. satellites and ground systems.

By applying decades of weather satellite expertise, strong leadership in project management, and systems engineering acumen, Noblis is helping drive our nation’s satellite program forward and helping NOAA/NESDIS ensure mission success.

Noblis Expert

Mary Ann Davis

Mary Ann is an experienced account and program manager leading a team of engineers and analysts who provide weather satellite and systems engineering expertise.
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Artist's rendition of the deployed Himawari-8 spacecraft (image credit: Mitsubishi Electric Corporation) Artist's rendition of the deployed Himawari-8 spacecraft (image credit: Mitsubishi Electric Corporation)

First test images from Himawari-8 (Image credit: 18 December 2014, Japan Meteorological Agency) First test images from Himawari-8 (Image credit: 18 December 2014, Japan Meteorological Agency)

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