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A polar-orbiting satellite
|“||constantly circle[s] the earth in an almost north-south orbit, providing global coverage of conditions that affect the weather and climate. Each satellite makes about 14 orbits a day. As the earth rotates beneath it, each satellite views the entire earth's surface twice a day.||”|
Polar satellites gather a broad range of data that are transformed into a variety of products. Satellite sensors observe different bands of radiation wavelengths, called channels, which are used for remotely determining information about the earth's atmosphere, land surface, oceans, and the space environment. When first received, satellite data are considered raw data.
To make them usable, processing centers format the data so that they are time-sequenced and include earth-location and calibration information. After formatting, these data are called raw data records. The centers further process these raw data records into channel-specific data sets, called sensor data records and temperature data records. These data records are then used to derive weather and climate products called environmental data records. These environmental data records include a wide range of atmospheric products detailing cloud coverage, temperature, humidity, and ozone distribution; land surface products showing snow cover, vegetation, and land use; ocean products depicting sea surface temperatures, sea ice, and wave height; and characterizations of the space environment. Combinations of these data records (raw, sensor, temperature, and environmental data records) are also used to derive more sophisticated products, including outputs from numerical weather models and assessments of climate trends. Figure 2 is a simplified depiction of the various stages of satellite data processing.
- ↑ Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites: Changing Requirements, Technical Issues, and Looming Data Gaps Require Focused Attention, at 3.