Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) has assembled a microwave instrument for the second Joint Polar Satellite System being built to support weather forecasting and climate monitoring efforts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The company began testing JPSS-2's Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder to determine whether the technology can withstand environmental conditions during liftoff and in space, NASA said Thursday.
Orbital ATK, which Northrop acquired last year, won a $253M delivery order from NASA in March 2015 to build the spacecraft and support mission operations. Construction is underway at a satellite factory in Gilbert, Ariz.
The satellite's microwave technology is designed to detect microwave radiation from Earth’s surface and atmosphere, monitor atmospheric temperature and collect moisture data.
"Every detail matters in ATMS's environmental test campaign. This is the most rigorous, thorough assessment the instrument will see, until it is on orbit," said Bob Mehltretter, vice president of Northrop's military and civil space business.
"Our close collaboration with NASA and NOAA throughout the testing ensures that ATMS will provide quality data for our weather forecasts," Mehltretter added.
Both agencies, which collaborate on the JPSS mission, aim to launch the next spacecraft in 2022.