The NPOESS mission consists of series of satellites for monitoring global environmental conditions, and collecting and disseminating data related to weather, atmosphere, oceans, land and the near-space environment. NPOESS stands for National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

It is an operational series from three US government agencies: NASA, the Department of Defence and the Department of Commerce. In contrast, the NASA satellites such as Terra and Aqua have been research satellites. The NOAA satellites have been operational (used for weather forecasting), and the DMSP satellites have been used by the US military. The joint mission should reduce costs. See the Integrated Programme Office web site for more details.

The test mission, launched before the NPOESS mission, is known as NPP - the NPOESS Preparatory Project.

The sensors carried aboard the NPP and NPOESS satellites will include: VIIRS, CrIS, ATMS and OMPS. VIIRS is the most similar to the AVHRR and MODIS sensors with which we are familiar. Not all sensors will be on all satellites, see the table below where the satellites are named by their local overhead time.

   1330   1730   2130   NPP 
Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) X X X X
Conical Microwave Imager/Sounder (CMIS) X X X  
Crosstrack Infrared Sounder (CrIS) X X   X
Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) X X   X
Space Environment Sensor Suite (SESS) X X X  
Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) X     X
Advance Data Collection System (ADCS) X X    
Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) X X X  
Total Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS)   X    
Earth Radiation Budget Sensor (ERBS) X      
RADAR Altimeter (ALT)   X    
Aerosol Polarimeter Sensor (APS)     X  
Survivability Sensor (SS) X X X  


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