Detailed Data, Actionable Environmental Intelligence 

Protecting Communities, Benefiting Our Economy and Security

Severe weather events, solar storms and our changing climate pose significant threats to lives, property, the economy and our national security, making accurate weather forecasts more important than ever. That’s why we have been perfecting our remote sensing instruments and spacecraft to quickly get actionable environmental data in the hands of civilian and military forecasters.

Our extensive heritage in operational weather systems includes lead roles on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) and NOAA-20 satellites. They launched in 2011 and 2017 respectively and have demonstrated exceptional performance as NOAA’s primary polar orbiting weather and environmental satellites.

Next Generation Weather Systems

An Industry Leader in Operational Weather Technology

Operational environmental satellites play a key role in protecting the public and the economy by collecting critical observations of the atmosphere, ocean and land surface.  Satellite observations drive the Nation’s prediction systems used by public agencies and private companies to forecast daily weather and extreme weather events. As stakeholders decide what the next generation of space-based operational weather systems will look like, Ball has focused internal resources on developing technologies and mission solutions that are aligned with the priorities of our partners, including NOAA and the Department of Defense.BOWIE-Ball

In June 2020, NOAA selected Ball Aerospace for four, six-month study contracts that will inform mission, spacecraft and instrument concepts for future operational weather architectures and Earth observation capabilities. Ball is also collaborating on a fifth study contract. Several of the studies further ongoing internal development work under our Ball Operational Weather Instrument Evolution (BOWIE) initiative.

The five study contracts include:
  • Auroral Imager in a Tundra orbit instrument concept
  • BOWIE Microwave Sounder instrument concept
  • BOWIE Compact Hyperspectral Infrared Observations (CHIRO) instrument concept
  • BOWIE Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) IR Sounder instrument concept
  • Joint LEO Sounding Mission Study mission concept

Defense Weather

Providing Our Warfighters a Competitive Advantage

WSF-MThe physical environment often plays an important role in military campaigns. Weather affects missions, from mechanized ground patrols, to air drops, aircraft carrier launches or strike operations. Military weather support relies on space-based systems to provide critical weather and environmental information used for mission planning and all operations. Polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites play important roles in military reconnaissance, planning and operations, and weather satellites are no exception.

We are adapting the way we build operational weather systems for civil customers to meet unique military requirements. We modified our GMI instrument design to meet specific DoD mission requirements. This new state-of-the-art instrument will provide key measurements of the ocean surface and atmosphere and is the foundation of the Weather System Follow-on – Microwave (WSF-M) mission we are delivering for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center. The data from WSF-M will mitigate high-priority DoD Space-Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) gaps including ocean surface winds, tropical cyclones intensity and sea ice concentration.

Global Precipitation

The Gold Standard

Global precipitation data is critical to accurately forecasting extreme weather events, and to understanding Earth’s water and energy cycles. The launch of our Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) aboard NASA’s GPM satellite ushered in a new era in advanced measurement of rain, ice and snowfall around the world.

GMI measures small precipitation particles in the atmosphere while a companion instrument built by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency provides a 3D view of a column of precipitation. Together, the instruments give scientists an unprecedented and highly accurate view of small precipitation particles, making forecasts more accurate. GMI’s high accuracy has set a “gold standard” for calibrating the other instruments in the eight-satellite GPM constellation. With a three-hour data refresh, the GPM constellation can feed timely data into Numerical Weather Prediction models, enabling forecasters to issue earlier and improved weather predictions.

Space Weather

Providing Solar Impacts to Human Activity

The Sun regularly releases massive amounts of radiation and charged particles through solar flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and other high-energy emissions. Collectively referred to as space weather, these events can endanger astronauts in space, interfere with satellites and damage communications and power grid infrastructure, causing significant economic impact.

Ushering in a new generation of space weather observing satellites, the Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 (SWFO-L1) mission is scheduled to launch in 2024 and facilitate early warnings for destructive space weather events. SWFO-L1 will collect solar wind data and coronal imagery to meet NOAA’s operational requirements to monitor and forecast solar storm activity.
Image Credit: Ball/SOHO
Building on the success of our spacecraft buses designed for operational weather missions like NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP, Ball was selected to deliver and operate a high-performing small satellite for the SWFO-L1 mission in partnership with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The small satellite will host several instruments to measure and assess the space weather environment.
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