USSF and NOAA Begin Joint Operations of Infrared Weather Satellite

A view of the Earth from the EWS-G1 satellite taken on September 1, 2020. Originally launched in 2006 as GOES-13, the satellite provided operational weather coverage over the United States’ East Coast for 10 years before being replaced in the GOES-East position by GOES-16. The transfer to the Department of Defense and relocation of EWS-G1 is the culmination of joint efforts between SMC, NOAA and NASA. (Credit: U.S. Space Force’s MARK IV-B Program Office)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (U.S. Space Force PR) – The U.S. Space Force has declared Initial Operational Capability of the Electro-optical Infrared Weather System Geostationary (EWS-G1) spacecraft. EWS-G1, formerly known as GOES-13, was transferred to the U.S. Air Force by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2019 under an agreement between the U.S. Air Force and NOAA for Interagency Cooperation on Collection of Space-Based Environmental Monitoring Data.

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NOAA Readies for Addition to its Space Weather Toolkit

An artist’s rendering of the SWFO-L1 satellite. (Credit: NOAA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA is planning an advanced satellite that will improve forecasts and warnings for potentially damaging solar activity while perched in a Sun-facing orbit a million miles from Earth.

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Microgravity Research in LEO Added to Top U.S. R&D Priorities for FY 2022

NASA Astronaut Bob Behnken works within the Light Microscopy Module facility on the Capillary Driven Microfluidics investigation from 1Drop Diagnostics, Inc. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Trump Administration has added microgravity research in Earth orbit as one of the nation’s key research and development (R&D) priorities for the 2022 fiscal year.

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NOAA’s JPSS-2 Satellite Instruments Ready for Delivery to the Spacecraft

The Integrated Electronics Module was recently integrated on the JPSS-2 spacecraft. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

by Peter Jacobs
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — In four different U.S. cities are four shipping containers, each one carrying an instrument that will travel to space to capture critical data on our planet’s weather and climate. 

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EUMETSAT Shifts Weather Satellites to Ariane 6

DARMSTADT, Germany — Meeting on 30 June in virtual configuration, the Council of Europe’s operational satellite agency for weather and climate, EUMETSAT, approved the transition plan from the second to the third generation of Meteosat geostationary satellites for 2022-2026.

As part of this plan, EUMETSAT will move Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) spacecraft Meteosat-9 over the Indian Ocean in 2022 to replace the ageing Meteosat-8 and continue MSG observations of that region until at least 2025. Meteosat observations of the Indian Ocean started in 1998 with a first-generation satellite, Meteosat-5.

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Sharpiegate: Commerce OIG Summary of Findings on Hurricane Dorian Statement

This Copernicus Sentinel-3 image features Hurricane Dorian as it pummels the Bahamas on 2 September 2019 at 15:16 GMT (11:16 EDT). (Credit: ESA)

Evaluation of NOAA’s September 6, 2019, Statement About
Hurricane Dorian Forecasts
FINAL REPORT NO. OIG-20-032-I
JUNE 26, 2020

U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of Inspector General

June 26, 2019

INFORMATION MEMORANDUM FOR SECRETARY [WILBUR] ROSS

From: Peggy E. Gustafson
Inspector General

RE: Evaluation of NOAA’s September 6, 2019, Statement About Hurricane Dorian Forecasts
Final Report No. OIG-20-032-1

On Friday, September 6, 2019–the day Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the United States as a Category 1 hurricane–the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued an unsighed statement (Statement) [redacted at Department’s request while the Department and its interagency stakeholders complete a pending privilege review] The statement rebuked the NOAA National Weather Service’s (NWS’s) Birmingham, Alabama, office (NWS Birmingham) for a September 1, 2019, tweet that advised that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian” [redacted at Department’s request while the Department and its interagency stakeholders complete a pending privilege review]

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Sharpiegate: Commerce OIG Memo Accusing Commerce Officials of Blocking Hurricane Dorian Report

NASA astronaut Christina Koch snapped this image of Hurricane Dorian from the International Space Station as it flew more than 200 miles above the storm on Sept. 2, 2019. (Credits: NASA/Christina Koch)

July 1, 2020

INFORMATION MEMORANDUM FOR SECRETARY [WILBUR] ROSS

FROM: Peggy E. Gustafson
Inspector General

SUBJECT: The Department Is Actively Preventing OIG from Completing an Evaluation

This memorandum expresses my deep concern that the Department is failing to identify specific privileges and provide privilege markings to a U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General (OIG) evaluation, while claiming amorphous and generalized privileges, which effectively prevent us from publicly releasing the evaluation that is otherwise ready for release. Under the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, 5 U.S.C. App. (IG Act), OIG is an “independent and objective” unit created “to conduct and supervise audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations” of the Department.1 To promote and maintain this independence, the IG Act prohibits you or your staff from preventing OIG from carrying out or completing our work.2 Further, “[i]t is Department policy that all employees fully cooperate with the OIG” in its evaluations.3 This policy requires that all Department employees “shall make every effort to assist the OIG.” 4 As described below, that full cooperation and assistance is absent here.

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NOAA to Purchase Commercial Radio Occultation Weather Data

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NOAA will purchase radio occultation (RO) data from commercial companies after determining that the measurements are useful in improving weather forecasting.

In a report released last week, NOAA said measurements provided by Spire Global and GeoOptics satellites during the second round of the Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) program in 2018 and 2019 demonstrated the utility of commercial RO data.

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NASA Awards Contract for Earth Observing Satellite Instrument

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Atmosphere Science Investigator-led Processing System (SIPS) contract to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.

The total value of this cost-no fee contract is $17,084,053. The contract includes a base year that begins on July 1, and has four options to extend the contract through March 31, 2025.

The contractor will process and reprocess the data from the VIIRS instrument from the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) series of satellites. The contractor will deliver Earth Observing System (EOS)-like standard and near real time atmosphere data products to the Earth Observing System Data and Information System as required by NASA Headquarters Earth Science Division for NASA researchers.

The JPSS missions are funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide global environmental data in low-Earth polar orbit in support of NOAA’s mission. NASA is the acquisition agent for the flight systems. NASA also acquires JPSS data for its research objectives.

NOAA Claims $735 Million in Savings on Polar Follow-On Satellite Program

NOAA has reported that it has found $735 million in savings in the Polar Follow-on (PFO) weather satellite program.

In a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), NOAA Acting Administrator Neil Jacobs said the program life cycle cost (LCC) has been reduced from $7.57 billion to $6.84 billion for fiscal years 2016 through 2038.

“The PFO Program has performed exceptionally well and the new LCC has sufficient cost and schedule margin to mitigate risk due to the improved posture,” Jacobs wrote.

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NOAA Harnessing Power of New Satellite Data this Hurricane Season

Hurricane Humberto (Credit: NOAA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — With predictions for an above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA forecasters have added meteorological muscle from a new  combination of satellite data flowing into its computer models. 

The Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC-2) is a new fleet of six small satellites launched last June. Since May 26, the constellation has begun feeding more than 4,000 vertical sets of measurements of atmospheric temperature and humidity in the tropics and subtropics daily into our forecast models. Measuring the moisture in and around tropical cyclones is important because it is a key ingredient for their development and intensification.

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SMC Awards $309 Million Contracts for Rapid Weather Prototyping Efforts

EWS Notional Distributed Architecture (Credit: SMC EWS Program)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (SMC PR) — The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has awarded three Other Transaction Authority agreements, totaling $309 million, to develop prototypes for the Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS) program. The awardees, each a member of the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), are:  

  • Raytheon Technologies
  • General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group (subcontractors: EO Vista/Atmospheric & Environmental Research (AER)/Braxton Technologies)
  • Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates (ASTRA) (subcontractors: Tyvak/Science & Technologies Corps (STC)/AER/Lockheed Martin)
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Senate Committee Approves Jacobs as NOAA Administrator

Neil Jacobs

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NOAA might finally get a permanent — if that is the right word –administrator more than three years into President Donald Trump’s four-year term.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation approved the nomination of Neil Jacobs to become under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, a position that includes serving as NOAA administrator.

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NASA CubeSat Mission to Gather Vital Space Weather Data

Dione will gather data not collected since NASA’s dual-spacecraft Dynamics Explorer mission launched in the early 1980s. (Credits: NASA)

By Lori Keesey
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA has selected a new pathfinding CubeSat mission to gather data not collected since the agency flew the Dynamics Explorer in the early 1980s.

The new mission, called Dione after the ancient Greek goddess of the oracles, will carry four miniaturized instruments to study how Earth’s upper atmospheric layers react to the ever-changing flow of solar energy into the magnetosphere — the enveloping bubble of magnetic field around Earth that deflects most of the particles that erupt from the Sun.

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