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April 3, 2014

APL “Space Weather” Instrument Heads to Orbit

Artist's rendering of SSUSI
Artist’s rendering of a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program orbiter above Earth.
Credit: U.S. Air Force

An APL-built remote-sensing instrument launched aboard the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program-Flight 19 spacecraft on April 3, at 10:46 a.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imager—or SSUSI—is a combination of spectrographic imaging and photometric systems designed to remotely sense the ionosphere and thermosphere. Three other SSUSI instruments have been launched aboard DMSP orbiters since the program began in 1990; another is slated for launch by 2020. SSUSI’s long-term job is to provide data on the upper atmosphere’s response to the sun over the changing conditions of the solar cycle. SSUSI data are used by the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency.

SSUSI is part of a sophisticated sensor suite onboard DMSP-19 that can capture visible and infrared cloud cover; measure precipitation, surface temperature, and soil moisture; and collect specialized global meteorological, oceanographic, and solar-geophysical information in all weather conditions.

“With the launch of the fourth of five SSUSIs, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab continues its 25-year commitment to supporting the space weather community,” said Larry Paxton, SSUSI principal investigator from APL. “SSUSI provides the only imaging of the aurora and ionosphere available to the research, applications, and user community. We’re all excited about this launch, which adds to the constellation of sensors and improves our ability to track these dynamic phenomena.”

Learn more about SSUSI.

Learn more about the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program from NOAA and the Air Force.

Media contact: Michael Buckley, 240-228-7536, Michael.Buckley@jhuapl.edu