Let’s Talk about the Weather – NOAA Celebrates 50 Years

Let’s Talk about the Weather – NOAA Celebrates 50 Years
By Jim Pedderson 12/21/2020
Whether it’s hurricanes in the southeast, ice storms in the north, tornadoes in the Midwest, or Suomi NPP satellitewildfires in the draught-prone west, there is not one part of the country left untouched by extreme weather events. Unfortunately, these extreme events are becoming more frequent and more widespread, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of monitoring the nation’s weather and climate.

Ball Aerospace is grateful for NOAA and its 50 years of helping us better understand our oceans and atmosphere and being at the forefront developing environmental science solutions to protect lives and property, strengthen our national security, and support our economy. We’re proud to have a decades-long partnership with NOAA in developing technologies and mission solutions that support its mission and help prepare communities for extreme weather events.

What do you know-a about NOAA?

While NOAA was officially established 50 years ago, its roots reach back more than 200 years. According to its website, the seeds of NOAA were planted in 1807, when President Thomas Jefferson started the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. The government formed the Weather Bureau and U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries in 1870 and 1871, respectively.

The three organizations, which represent America’s first agencies dedicated to physical science, atmospheric science and conservation, were brought together in 1970 as NOAA, an agency within the Department of Commerce. In addition to understanding and predicting changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts; NOAA’s mission is to share the knowledge and information it obtains with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

NOAA’s mission is more challenging than ever. The rise of extreme weather and water events is devastating not only to the individuals impacted, but also to the economy, as a whole. In the five-year period ending in 2019, NOAA tracked nearly 70 separate weather disasters, including wildfires, hail storms, flooding and tornados, that each resulted in at least $1 billion in damage, according to a report the Agency released in January 2020.


JPSS-1 satelliteIt takes a village

Of course, neither NOAA nor any other agency can do anything to stop these extreme weather events. But NOAA, along with scientists from universities and government laboratories, and industry partners such as Ball Aerospace, are striving to make the U.S. a more Weather-Ready Nation. As a mission partner to NOAA, Ball has played a leading role in executing on programs that provide critical environmental intelligence, including the Ball-built Suomi-NPP (National Polar Partnership) satellite and the JPSS-1 satellite, now NOAA-20, which are performing flawlessly on orbit. Both satellites have provided crucial global observations of the atmosphere, ocean and land surface for the Nation's weather forecasting systems since their launches in 2011 and 2018, respectively.

Ball looks forward to continuing its relationship with NOAA for years to come. Most recently, the company was selected by NOAA to conduct four, six-month studies that will inform mission, and instrument concepts for future operational weather, space weather architectures and Earth observation capabilities in both low earth-, geosynchronous- and tundra orbits.

Building a Weather Ready Nation is not something a single organization can do. Ball is proud to be just one of the many partners working closely together with NOAA to increase our understanding of and preparedness for weather events. So much has changed over the last 50 years and much more will change over the next 50. We can all be confident that NOAA will continue to innovate and enhance its capabilities to meet those changes.
The success of the multi-faceted EPOXI-Deep Impact mission has the potential to inspire future programs. It exemplifies Ball’s heritage, capabilities and commitment to science at any scale, from developing technology to measure methane emissions on Earth to building spacecraft and instruments for observing the deepest reaches of space. Ball Aerospace has played a role in some of the most notable planetary science missions of the modern era, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Kepler/K2 mission.

Next year, the Ball-built optical technology and the iconic honeycomb mirror system of the James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch on its one-million-mile journey to detect the light from the first galaxies ever formed and explore planets around distant stars.
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