L3Harris Technologies has been awarded a contract by NASA to develop a hyperspectral infrared ‘sounder’ concept that will improve the accuracy and timeliness of US weather forecasting.
Set to begin this month, the second weather prediction modeling study will enable L3Harris to test and evaluate the advanced sounder satellite weather sensors that will measure temperature and water vapor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) GeoXO mission, tasked with advancing future severe storm tracking, forecasting, and climate and other Earth observations. The L3Harris concept includes a sensor that offers hyperspectral and infrared readings, giving severe weather trackers an advantage as they predict dangerous storms.
Satellite soundings measure vertical profiles of the atmosphere, enabling forecasters to view temperature, humidity and trace gas concentrations at different pressure levels and heights. Soundings are different from other visible and infrared satellite imagery, which cannot ‘see’ through clouds and can only make one image.
Ed Zoiss, President, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris, said, “To produce accurate forecasts, weather prediction models require detailed observations of the Earth’s surface to the top of the atmosphere. Our technology has and will continue to play a critical role in improving severe storm tracking and warnings by feeding continuous information into advance weather prediction models.”
In April 2021, L3Harris was selected by NOAA to run similar analysis supporting a GeoXO satellite imager, which would collect weather, ocean and other environmental data that can be used to assess and improve a range of climate and natural disaster planning efforts.
The future geostationary weather sounders and imagers are scheduled to launch in the 2030s.