Northrop Grumman has successfully delivered a key sensor for the national polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system (NPOESS) preparatory project.

NPOESS is low earth orbiting weather and climate monitoring system for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that will provide operational and long-term weather and climate data to civilian and military users for the next two decades.

The NPOESS preparatory project (NPP) provides risk reduction, and validates new instruments and aspects of the command, control, communications and ground processing ahead of the launch of the first NPOESS spacecraft.

The visible infrared imager radiometer suite in the satellite will provide detailed colour imagery of clouds, vegetation, snow cover, dust storms and other environmental phenomena.

The NPP spacecraft is due for launch in 2011.