Nasa is planning to launch the first Earth-observing satellite, the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP), on a Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on 27 October 2011.

The $1.5bn NPP project will serve as a bridge between Nasa’s Earth Observing System of satellites and the planned Joint Polar Satellite System, which will collect climate and weather data.

The satellite will carry five instruments to study temperature and water in the atmosphere, how clouds and aerosols affect temperature, and how plants on land and in the ocean respond to environmental changes.

Goddard manages the NPP mission for the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at Nasa headquarters in Washington, US.

Project managers said the satellite is expected to operate for about five years.