David E.

Steitz Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1730)

December 20, 2000

Mark Hess Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: 301/286-8982) RELEASE: C00-q NASA SELECTS FIRM TO BUILD NEXT GENERATION WEATHER INSTRUMENT A California firm has been selected by the NASA Office of Earth Sciences, Washington, DC, to implement a next-generation satellite package that could improve weather forecasting twofold and help in the research of global climate change. Gencorp Aerojet, based in Azusa, CA, was selected to build the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS). The space-borne atmospheric instrument will measure microwave energy emitted and scattered by the atmosphere. ATMS will work alongside an infrared sounder instrument to produce daily global atmospheric temperature, humidity and pressure profiles. These profiles are essential to accurate weather forecasting and long-term climate research. The contract is worth $206.6 million, with the majority of the work to be performed in Azusa, CA. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, will be responsible for the oversight of the award. "As we develop this advanced technology instrument, we move closer to improving our constellation of weather and climate observing satellites to the point where we will be able to improve forecasts from the current three-to-five day accuracy level of predictions on to seven-to-ten day predictions," said Dr. Ghassem Asrar, Associated Administrator for NASA's Earth Sciences Enterprise, Headquarters, Washington, DC. "These new technologies will provide an order of magnitude increase in our predictive capabilities, and our overall understanding of Earth's climate in the new millennium." ATMS will replace instruments currently flying on polarorbiting weather satellites. The new instrument is about one-

third the size and weight of existing microwave sounding systems currently on the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites and the Aqua spacecraft. This miniaturization technology is made possible by new advances in microwave electronics and will enable NASA to develop smaller and less-expensive spacecraft to fly ATMS and other instruments. "We are investing in key technologies such as ATMS to meet our national strategic objectives in weather and climate research," Dr. Asrar added. The first ATMS unit is planned to be flown on a project being developed by the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project "Bridge" mission, a tri-agency program involving NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Air Force. The NPOESS program merges civilian and military polar-orbiting satellite systems in a single, comprehensive mission. The Bridge mission will ensure continuity of research quality data by "bridging" sounding data between the NASA Earth Observing System research missions and the NPOESS operational missions of the future. The 1994 Presidential Decision Directive that established the NPOESS Integrated Program Office charged NASA with the responsibility for developing and implementing new costeffective technologies. NOAA was charged with overall responsibility for the converged system, as well as satellite operations and interactions with the civil and international user communities. The U.S Air Force has the responsibility for major systems acquisitions, including launch support. Additional information about the program is available on the Internet at: http://npoess.noaa.gov http://jointmission.gsfc.nasa.gov/ - end -