Artistic rendition of NOAA-19 Prime Satellite. Credit: Lockheed Martin
Artistic rendition of NOAA-19 Prime Satellite. Credit: Lockheed Martin

The NOAA-19 (designated NOAA-N Prime prior to launch) spacecraft began its mission to help monitor Earth's weather from its polar orbit by riding to space atop a Delta II rocket. The successful liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-2 West came at 5:22 a.m. EST on Feb. 6, 2009.

Once NOAA-19 achieved orbit and was operational, NASA handed over the control of the Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES) to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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NOAA-19 will provide a polar-orbiting platform to support environmental monitoring instruments for imaging and measuring Earth's atmosphere and sea surface temperature. The NOAA-19 satellite, built for NASA by Lockheed Martin, will improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world. NOAA-19 is the fifth and last in the current series of five polar-orbiting satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities.

The satellite will collect meteorological data and transmit the information to NOAA's Satellite and Information Service, which processes the data for input to the National Weather Service for its long-range weather and climate forecasts. Forecasters worldwide also will be able to access the satellite's images and data. NOAA-19 has sensors that will be used in the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System to monitor for distress signals around the world.