Meteorlogical Satellites DMSP Block 5D3

DMSP-5D3 (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Block 5D3) is the eleventh and most recent version of the military meteorological satellites of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.

F15 was launched in 1999. Others followed.

And now a couple of them are no longer capable of producing sea ice data.

DMSP F17 is no longer producing reliable sea ice data from its sensors.

NSIDC has suspended daily sea ice extent updates until further notice, due to issues with the satellite data used to produce these images. The vertically polarized 37 GHz channel (37V) of the Special Sensor Microwave Imager and Sounder (SSMIS) on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-17 satellite that provides passive microwave brightness temperatures is providing spurious data. The 37V channel is one of the inputs to the sea ice retrieval algorithms, so this is resulting in erroneous estimates of sea ice concentration and extent. The problem was initially seen in data for April 5 and all data since then are unreliable, so we have chosen to remove all of April from NSIDC’s archive.

DMSP F19 is no longer controllable.

NOAA satellite operators unexpectedly lost the ability to command one of the Air Force’s primary weather satellites on Feb. 11 and now officials from both organizations are racing to determine if the spacecraft can return to service, officials told SpaceNews.

The satellite, known as the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19, is used to help weather forecasters predict fog, thunderstorms and hurricanes that could impact military operations. Launched in April 2014, the spacecraft is the Air Force’s newest weather satellite on orbit.

Air Force officials do not yet know the cause of the problem, or if the satellite can be recovered, Andy Roake, a spokesman for Air Force Space Command, said in a March 2 email.

“Operators lost the ability to command and control Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19 (DMSP F-19) Feb. 11, 2016 and subsequently are making attempts to regain connectivity,” he said. “The satellite is in a stable configuration while operators continue to troubleshoot the anomaly.

“At this time, it is not known what caused the anomaly or if the satellite will be recovered, and the anomaly is under investigation. There are no other known issues with the satellite.”

Air Force Space Command disclosed the problem with the satellite March 2 in response to questions from SpaceNews.

The DMSP constellation requires at least two primary satellites and two backup satellites to gather cloud imagery. As a result of the problem, the Air Force has reassigned an older satellite, DMSP Flight 17, which launched in 2006 and had been serving as a backup, into a primary role, Roake said.

More info here:

Instruments on this series are:

OLS (Operational Linescan System) weather imager

SSMIS (microwave imager and sounder)

SSULI ultraviolet limb imager

SSUSI ultraviolet spectrographic imager and nadir airglow photometer

SSI/ES-3 thermal plasma instrument

SSJ/5 precipitating particle spectrometer

SSF laser threat warning sensor

Following instruments are on the individual satellites:

DMSP-5D3 F-15: OLS, SSM/I, SSJ/4, SSI/ES-2, SSM-Boom, SSZ
DMSP-5D3 F-16: OLS, SSMIS, SSI/ES-3, SSJ5, SSM-Boom, SSULI, SSUSI, SSF
DMSP-5D3 F-17: OLS, SSMIS, SSI/ES-3, SSJ5, SSM-Boom, SSULI, SSUSI, SSF
DMSP-5D3 F-18: OLS, SSMIS, SSI/ES-3, SSJ5, SSM-Boom, SSULI, SSUSI, SSF
DMSP-5D3 F-19: OLS, SSMIS, SSI/ES-3, SSJ5, SSM-Boom, SSULI, SSUSI, SSF
DMSP-5D3 F-20: OLS, SSMIS, SSI/ES-3, SSJ5, SSM-Boom, SSULI, SSUSI, SSF

The DMSP-5D3 series was to be succeded by the jointly with NASA and NOAA developed NPOES system, which was cancelled in 2010 due to massive cost overruns. As a replacement, they were to be replaced by the military DWSS series, which in turn also was cancelled.

The last satellite, DMSP-5D3 F20, which is in storage since the 1990ies, might eventually not launch, as the Senate drafted a bill, which prohibits the Air Force from spending any money on the DMSP-5D3 F20 launch pending certification from the secretary of defense that the military cannot obtain comparable data at a lower cost from other sources, such as civilian or international weather satellites. In the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2016, lawmakers provided no funding neither for DMSP nor for the launch of DMSP-5D3 F-20 around 2018, effectively ending the program.

DMSP-5D3 F19 has stopped responding to commands on 11 February 2016 for reasons unknown. It remains unclear, if the satellite can be recovered. In the aftermath of this failure, the USAF is reconsidering the future of DMSP-5D3 F-20.

 

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3 thoughts on “Meteorlogical Satellites DMSP Block 5D3

  1. Interesting the timing when they lost control:

    “EARTH-DIRECTED FLARE: Sunspot AR2497 erupted on Feb. 11th (2103 UT), producing a C9-class solar flare and, very likely, an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME). Extreme UV radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth’s atmosphere. That caused a minor shortwave radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean: map.”

     http://www.spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=11&month=02&year=2016

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