Polar Operational Environmental Satellites

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The Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) project operates a constellation of weather satellites in polar orbits around the Earth. It is a joint effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).[1] Spacecraft for the project are provided by NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center oversees the manufacture, integration and test of the NASA-provided TIROS satellites.[2] The launch of the first polar-orbiting weather satellites in attempt to improve the accuracy and detail of weather analysis and forecasting began with FL. TIROS 1 (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) on April 1, 1960.[3]

On-orbit satellite operation of these is performed by NOAA's Office of Satellite and Product Operations (OSPO).[4] The POES constellation also includes an ESA-provided MetOp satellite operated by EUMETSAT. To protect the satellite from solar and terrestrial anomalies such as solar radiation belts and fluctuations of charged particles at altitude, the POES project is equipped with the Space Environment Monitor 2 (SEM-2) which provides awareness of these anomalies that may impair the operation of the satellite and its other sensors.[5] The POES program will be superseded by the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS).[6]

Daily global coverage[edit]

Notational local equatorial crossing times, showing POES (and other) satellites.

Each POES satellite completes roughly 14.1 orbits per day. Since the number of orbits per day is not an integer, the ground tracks do not repeat on a daily basis. The systems includes both morning and afternoon satellites which provide global coverage four times daily.[4]


Data from the POES satellites support a broad range of environmental monitoring applications including weather analysis and forecasting, climate research and prediction, global sea surface temperature measurements, atmospheric soundings of temperature and humidity, ocean dynamics research, volcanic eruption monitoring, forest fire detection, global vegetation analysis, search and rescue, and many other applications.[4]

One of the key instruments of the current POES MetOp-B system is the High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS/4).  HIRS/4 senses within 20 channels ranging from visible bands to long wave infrared (0.69-14.96 micron wavelengths), to sense variation of temperature, humidity, and pressures within the atmosphere.[3] The data collected from HIRS/4 is collaboratively used with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Instrument (AMSU) to advance research in sea surface temperatures, cloud coverage analysis, ozone concentrations throughout the atmosphere and earth's radiance.[2][3]


POES being used for the Search and Rescue community since 1982. COSPAS-SARSAT is the international humanitarian Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System that is responsible for alerting and locating information to search and rescue authorities. COSPAS-SARSAT satellites detect 406 MHz distress signals at all times from nearly any place on the globe. Each 406 MHz beacon has a unique fifteen digit identification (ID) code embedded within its signal which allows rescuers to have an identification of the party in distress before they head out on the rescue. There is no charge for this service provided in conjunction with NOAA and SARSAT.[7]

Recent Launches[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "EUMETSAT Polar System - Programme Background". EUMETSAT. 
  2. ^ a b "POES Project". NASA. 
  3. ^ a b c ". . . P O E S . . .". poes.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-19. 
  4. ^ a b c "Polar Orbiting Satellites". NOAA. 
  5. ^ ". . . P O E S . . .". poes.gsfc.nasa.gov. 
  6. ^ "NOAA/NASA Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Management Control Plan (MCP) 2013" (PDF). January 2013. 
  7. ^ "COSPAS SARSAT - Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System" (PDF). NOAA. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 19, 2017. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  8. ^ "A History of POES". poes.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-19. 
  9. ^ a b "POES Timeline". poes.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-19. 
  10. ^ "GOES_R" NASA. Retrieved: 13 March 2017.
  11. ^ "MetOp-B Launches with NASA Goddard-Developed Instruments."NASA. Retrieved: 21 June 2012.