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Northrop Grumman Delivers NPP CERES Sensor to Ball Aerospace Ahead of Schedule
November 10, 2008
REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Nov. 10, 2008 -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) successfully delivered a key sensor for global climate change measurement one week ahead of schedule and on budget. The sensor is the second to be delivered for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project (NPP).
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The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) sensor will be integrated onto the NPP spacecraft, which is scheduled to launch in 2010. NPP is a joint mission between the tri-agency NPOESS Integrated Program Office and NASA providing risk-reduction for NPOESS and will bridge climate measurements between NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) research spacecraft and the operational NPOESS system. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the design, development and delivery of NPOESS system -- and is responsible for overseeing the delivery of three sensors for NPP.
"We modified the CERES Flight Model 5 for NPP in nine months by assembling an expert team of CERES veterans," said Dave Vandervoet, vice president of Civil Systems Division for Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "Their experience with the sensor, its construction, software, and intricate calibration processes made this timely delivery possible. CERES will allow global climate measurements that have been gathered continuously for three decades to continue through the middle of the next decade."
Northrop Grumman modified CERES under contract to NASA Langley Research Center.
"The Earth's radiation balance is in many ways the most critical part of the climate system and is directly influenced by changes in atmospheric composition, such as greenhouse gases and aerosols, cloud properties, and surface and atmospheric temperature," said Bruce Wielicki and Norman Loeb, NASA's CERES Principal Investigators. "The CERES instrument on NPP will continue the excellent CERES radiation budget data record collected by the NASA's Earth Observing System satellites and earlier Earth radiation budget satellite missions."
"The long climate record from CERES will ultimately answer a longstanding question in science concerning the role of clouds in amplifying or damping the sensitivity of the Earth's climate system," they concluded.
For more than 25 years, Northrop Grumman has supplied CERES and an earlier generation of similar sensors to measure the reflected solar radiation and emitted thermal radiation over the Earth's surface. The latest sensor, one of six built, underwent electrical and thermal modifications, had updated software installed and was calibrated at the company's manufacturing facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif.
Four CERES sensors are currently operational on NASA's Terra and Aqua Earth Observing System spacecraft. The first CERES sensor to be launched was a part of the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission.
CERES sensors measure thermal radiation from the visible/near-ultraviolet to the far infrared wavelength regions, or in simpler terms, the amount of sunlight reflected from the Earth and atmosphere as well as the thermal energy emitted by the Earth and atmosphere. Changes in the radiation budget can cause significant temperature changes, enough to increase or shrink arable lands, lengthen growing seasons, and enlarge cold zones or deserts.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.
* CERES provides observational climate data records documenting
changes in the Earth's radiation energy balance.
* Changes in the radiation budget can cause significant temperature
changes, enough to increase or shrink arable lands, lengthen
growing seasons, and enlarge cold zones or deserts.
* CERES is a scanning broadband radiometer designed to measure
the emitted thermal and reflected solar radiative energy from the
surface of the Earth and the atmosphere. The radiometer is made up
of three sensors, each with its own telescope mounted on a gimbaled
platform that continuously scans across the Earth in a 6.6-second
* The CERES shortwave, longwave, and total sensor channels are
calibrated to an accuracy that allows the reflected and emitted
light from the Earth to be determined with less than 1%, 0.3%,
and 0.5% drift over more than 5 years on-orbit, respectively.
This is 5 to 10 times better than other typical space instruments.
This is accomplished using an elaborate Radiometric Calibration
Facility at Northrop Grumman that was designed specifically to
support CERES calibration. Accuracies of these levels are required
to allow climate scientists to determine if the Earth is in a
warming or cooling trend and to measure the effect of clouds on
this warming or cooling.
* CERES is providing a systematic and thorough observation of the
Earth's surface at all latitudes, which is required to accurately
determine the global amount of radiation received from the sun
and the amount reflected back to space.
* The first CERES sensor was launched in 1997.
* Northrop Grumman's CERES modification contract is valued at
approximately $7 million.
CONTACT: Sally Koris
Northrop Grumman Space Technology