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NASA weather satellite to be launched from Vandenberg

October 27, 2011 |  6:27 pm

NASA

NASA's newest high-powered weather satellite, set to keep an eye on long-term climate change and short-term weather conditions, is poised to be launched atop a 13-story rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The $1.5-billion satellite is slated to blast off aboard a Delta II rocket at 2:47 a.m. PDT on Friday from Space Launch Complex-2 at the base, located northwest of Santa Barbara.

There will be live launch coverage on NASA's Launch Blog or rocket maker United Launch Alliance's website, which will begin around 12 a.m.

According to NASA, the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, or NPOESS Preparatory Project, is a crucial first step in building the next-generation weather system.

The satellite, built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., is armed with new state-of-the-art sensors that will probe everything from the ozone layer and land cover, to atmospheric temperatures and ice cover. Obtaining this information is crucial to understanding global change, NASA said.

Check out how it works here.

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-- W.J. Hennigan

twitter.com/wjhenn

Photo: The NPP satellite being lowered into the thermal vacuum chamber. Credit: Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.

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