Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CrIS Sensor Successfully Completes Thermal Vacuum Testing

CrIS Sensor Successfully Completes Thermal Vacuum Testing
April 28, 2010

REDONDO BEACH, Ca. –- An advanced infrared sounding sensor that will help improve weather forecasting completed its final thermal vacuum test at Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) subcontractor ITT Corporation (NYSE:ITT). The instrument will be deployed on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project spacecraft (NPP).

The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) was subjected to cycles of heat and cold to simulate conditions in space to verify that recently reworked electronic parts will perform as designed. Rework on the electronic parts was performed to ensure the parts meet design specifications. Following its first complete thermal vacuum test in 2008, review of the instrument performance determined CrIS will deliver outstanding mission capability on orbit.

"The final thermal vacuum test further validated our team's confidence in CrIS' ability to perform its critical mission," said Dave Vandervoet, vice president and NPOESS Program Manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "The electronic boards performed according to specifications during this test. When operational, CrIS will prove to be an extremely valuable weather and climate observation platform."

CrIS will provide improved measurements of the temperature and moisture profiles in the atmosphere for improved weather forecasting as well as support to climate monitoring. Current U.S. operational infrared sounders provide about 20 infrared channels of information and characterize atmospheric temperature profiles to an accuracy of 2 to 3 degrees Kelvin. CrIS will provide more than 1,300 spectral channels of information in the infrared band. Precise calibration better than 0.1 degree Kelvin will produce improved vertical temperature profiles with accuracy of better than one degree Kelvin (the absolute temperature scale).

These profiles are used by forecasters as inputs to numerical weather prediction models of global and regional weather patterns, storm tracks, and precipitation. For example, the accuracy of hurricane intensity and storm tracks are expected to improve dramatically.

CrIS was built by ITT under contract to Northrop Grumman for the NPOESS system. Although the government announced its intention to restructure NPOESS earlier this year and is developing a transition plan, work on key elements of the program of record is continuing to avoid future gaps in weather and climate monitoring.


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