DMSP Imager Measures Brightness Temperatures to Track Weather

April 3, 2014
The Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) aboard the latest Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite utilizes a next-generation sensor suite to study cloud covers.
Engineers and technicians encapsulate the 19th Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) block 5D weather satellite. (Photo courtesy of the United Launch Alliance)

Since the 1960s, the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) has helped collect data that enables military forecasters to find, track, and forecast weather systems globally to improve operations. The newest satellite in the fleet, DMSP-19, was recently encapsulated for its upcoming launch. It is equipped with an upgraded sensor suite that will help capture visible and infrared cloud cover. As a result, it will be able to study meteorological, oceanographic, and solar-geophysical information in all conditions.

The DMSP-19’s main sensor is the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I).  That imager provides all-weather capability for tactical operations and is especially useful in forecasting severe-storm activity.  According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, the SSM/I is “a seven-channel, four-frequency, orthogonally polarized, passive microwave radiometric system that measures atmospheric, ocean and terrain microwave brightness temperatures at 19.35, 22.2, 37.0, and 85.5 GHz.”

The instrument consists of an offset parabolic reflector that is fed by a corrugated, broadband, seven-port horn antenna. The absolute brightness of the scene is received by the antenna and then spatially filtered to produce an effective input signal of the feed horn. This data is used to note geophysical parameters, such as ocean surface, wind speed, precipitation over land, soil moisture, and land surface temperature.

Another on-board sensor, the Operational Linescan System, observes clouds via both visible and infrared imagery for worldwide forecasts. It scans areas 1800 miles wide and is capable of covering the entire earth in about 12 hours. All of these elements combine to track and forecast weather systems--focusing particularly on remote and hostile areas for deployed troops.

The DMSP-19’s April 2014 launch is the program’s first in five years, as DMSP-18 was launched in 2009. Over 40 satellites have been produced in the program’s history. DMSP is led by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center with controls provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. All DMSP satellites are integrated and tested at Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ facility in California.

About the Author

Iliza Sokol | Associate Digital Editor

Iliza joined the Penton Media group in 2013 after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BS in Advertising and Marketing Communications. Prior to joining the staff, she worked at NYLON Magazine and a ghostwriting firm based in New York.

Sponsored Recommendations

Wideband MMIC LNA with Bypass

June 6, 2024
Mini-Circuits’ TSY-83LN+ wideband, MMIC LNA incorporates a bypass mode feature to extend system dynamic range. This model operates from 0.4 to 8 GHz and achieves an industry leading...

Expanded Thin-Film Filter Selection

June 6, 2024
Mini-Circuits has expanded our line of thin-film filter topologies to address a wider variety of applications and requirements. Low pass and band pass architectures are available...

Mini-Circuits CEO Jin Bains Presents: The RF Engine of the 21st Century

June 6, 2024
In case you missed Jin Bains' inspiring keynote talk at the inaugural IEEE MTT-S World Microwave Congress last week, be sure to check out the session recording, now available ...

Selecting VCOs for Clock Timing Circuits A System Perspective

May 9, 2024
Clock Timing, Phase Noise and Bit Error Rate (BER) Timing is critical in digital systems, especially in electronic systems that feature high-speed data converters and high-resolution...